Vincent Bossel’s 3-minute micro-short The Cook is an excellent piece of work that harnesses the absorbing power of watching professional cooking with deft cinematography and the magnificent notes of Bedřich Smetana’s The Moldau.
The film combines dreamlike imagery and humour for a totally interior coming-of-age story that moves waves of pleasure in the audience as effectively as it amuses. Its music is crucial to this. The symphonic grandeur of The Moldau accompanies the scene: a chef (the sole character, played by Guillaume Soubeyran), curiously young, preparing a dish with the utmost care and dedication. He washes, minces, slices, measures, and plates, with such single-minded attention, the rest of his immediate world may not even exist for him. The camera remains trained on his hands. There is something endearingly quirky in the way he fixes his toque during a brief pause in the preparation.
The music swells as he emerges from the darkness, his single patron, curiously shirtless, sitting ready to be served with the product of the cook’s meticulous craftsmanship. With this scene, the film begins to tug at the loose thread that is the chef’s youthfulness.
Its dreamlike quality truly takes form once the patron’s face is shown. It is the cook himself. But the next cut reveals another twist, this time humorous. The ‘dish’ is a joint. The grandiosity of the music and the cinematography have been in service of a joint, and what’s more, it has been for the cook himself. When the film reveals the true nature of the story—it is a dream conjured up by the boy, shirtless and high in his bathroom—it is simultaneously funny and beautiful as he holds up his hands in wonder at their capacity and the possibilities they represent. The throwaway reference to Melancholia further drives up the drama. Amusingly, the final beats of music just as the image cuts to the credits even sound like knocks on the door, as if someone has come to snap the boy out of his fantastic reverie.
End of Spoilers.
The Cook is a joy to watch in every way, not the least of which is Soubeyran’s character. The cook’s boyish face and innocent concentration play wonderfully with the music. The film generally inclines towards complementary contrast like this, and thus its success.
Watch The Cook Short Film
The Cook: Basking in the Joy of Transferable Skills and Finding Your Calling