Delicious, written and directed by Tammy Riley-Smith. Copyright 2013. Seen July 3, 2014.
Warning: there are plot spoilers in this review.
I wanted to like this film. I really did.
Starring Louise Brealey (best known as “Molly” in Sherlock), I had heard about how much difficulty they had producing this film due to a) it not having any ‘big name’ stars, b) it being written and directed by a woman, and c) it being a romantic comedy (of sorts) that involved a woman with an eating disorder. I’m a supporter of independent films, and I am a strong supporter of getting more films out there written and/or directed by women with strong female characters.
The story is a good one: Jacques (Nico Rogner) comes to London under the idea of being a chef under well-known Gordon Ramsey-expy Victor Ellwood (Adrian Scarborough). Being mugged on his first night, he ends up subleasing a flat from one of his new co-workers, and runs across Stella (Brealey), being warned that she is ‘unusual’. Through some events that we’ll go into here in a moment, he catches on to the fact that she has an eating disorder (based on her symptoms, I would guess bulimia). And that, for me, is where the movie falls apart.
The movie is advertised as a bit of a romantic comedy. Being a fan of movies that are off the beaten road (like Happy Accidents), the fact that it was also about someone with an eating disorder meeting a chef just made me want to see it more. But while the movie has some comedy in it, to call it one – or to even really call it a romance – is a gross misnomer.
You see, Jacques’ plan for helping Stella is basically using Stockholm Syndrome.
After interrupting an (intentional) disturbing sequence of Stella binge eating, he wrestles her to the ground, and then proceeds to steal her house keys and keeps her locked up in her own home, telling her he won’t let her leave until she eats food he’s cooked. By this point, we’ve already seen he has no sense of privacy (having spied on her changing clothes) and a warped sense of right and wrong (he steals food from the restaurant in order to cook for her). What little sympathy I had for the character is gone as he keeps her captive, despite her protests, and despite the fact that he barely knows her. And she ends up falling for him.
Don’t get me wrong: the movie is one of the best portrayals of someone with an eating disorder I’ve seen on screen. It’s very disturbing to watch at times. Brealey is great, and there are some great sweet and romantic moments here and there.
But I found the solution, well, problematic (as much as that word is overused today), and also felt there wasn’t much chemistry between Brealey and Rogner. There wasn’t a real moment for me where I could see him see Brealey’s character and go, “Her. That’s a woman I want to be romantically attached to.” The ending, too, just sort of ends: I’m guessing it’s intentionally ambiguous, but it left me more frustrated.
In a meal, even if it’s the best cooked in the world, if it’s made up of food I don’t like, I still won’t enjoy it. While this movie had a lot going for it that wanted me to like it, it had too many ingredients that I didn’t care for.
Delicious is available via iTunes and Amazon Instant. For more information, visit deliciousthefilm.com.