The Food Club Review
Stock-standard and unassuming, The Food Club is nevertheless a heartwarming tale.
The story of three longtime girlfriends from elementary school, who are very different women. Marie (Kirsten Olesen) is abandoned by her husband on Christmas Eve, and her entire identity crumbles. Stuck with gifted romantic getaway to Italy and now with no one to use it with, she calls up her two friends Berling (Stina Ekblad) (an eternal bachelor who outwardly denies her age) and Vanja (Kirsten Lehfeldt) (a woman having difficulty moving on from her dead husband) to travel to Puglia with her. There, they attend a food course, where they each have an opportunity to redefine themselves.
The Food Club hints at about a million other movies you’ve seen before, films like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel that focus on octogenerians rediscovering themselves after a personal upheaval. And it doesn’t shy away from the tropes of the genre, hitting all of the expected story beats exactly as you expect it to.
Marie, as played by Kirsten Olesen, is perhaps too grating to be a truly sympathetic character, and the way she treats her friends delves too lowly to truly be redeemed by her about face in the third act. The set decoration prior to Italy is sparse and jarring, and feels low budget. So too, do some of the more fanciful Italy scenes, in particular a scene where Marie learns finally how to cook pasta sauce - a more assured camera hand and editorial flair would have made this scene, but instead it feels slow, plodding and amateurish.
Indeed, much of the film feels low budget. That being said, it doesn’t make it unenjoyable. Lehfeldt is very funny as Vanja, and the central trio has a nice dynamic when they aren’t being abused by an out-of-sorts Marie. The film incorporates romance but never preoccupies itself with outlandish affairs. Overall, it’s a heartwarming piece. This isn’t going to blow your mind, and it’s not really going to push any boundaries, but it is a film you can relax into and easily go along with.
You’ll feel the constraints of the budget, but you’ll also feel a tiny pull on your heartstrings.