- Colin Fraser
THE FOOD CLUB
TWO STARS Three Danish woman sign up for a cooking class in Italy and learn more than how to prepare pasta.
Stina Ekblad, Kirsten Olesen
COMEDY DRAMA Denmark #THEFOODCLUB
From the get-go, you can see this Danish romantic comedy drama being remade in the UK. It would star Imelda Staunton, Julie Walters, Miriam Margoyles and Bill Nighy among the comic heavy weights. It would remain set in Italy, though probably move to Tuscanny, and with any luck would loose the try-hard tone of its Danish counterpart to become a sweet story of inspiration that THE FOOD CLUB so wants to be.
Three older woman, friends since high-school, haven’t been there for one another lately. Marie is too busy helping run the family business; Vanja has been emotionally trapped by the premature death of her spouse while Berling is so wrapped in her social life there’s been no time for anyone else. Then Marie learns her husband has been having an affair. The women rally round and decide that the best thing for it is distraction - namely a week long cooking course in Italy. It’ll take her mind off things and maybe Vanja will learn to socialise a little more, and Berling a little less.
Spoiler alert: of course they do. With one exception, THE FOOD CLUB is devoid of surprise as it travels a well-worn path taken by all films in which foreigners-escape-their-lives-in-an-exotic-location (the exception is one romantic cliché these filmmakers chose not to indulge in. I suspect the UK version won’t be so coy) and-learn-how-to-be-better-at-life. Adding greater burden to what should be a light-hearted affair is a cumbersome script that can’t decide whether it wants to be a romance, a comedy or a drama. The film’s leads seem even less certain. The results are rather soupy.
All that said, there are still some poignant moments when THE FOOD CLUB does manage to pull itself together. Growing older, it says, is no less scary or painful or exciting whether you’re 16 or 60. Food can help, friendship helps more. It’s a lesson that, I suspect, Imelda, Julie and Miriam are eager to share.