Paul Lacoste’s hypnotic documentary about father-and-son master chefs Michel and Sébastien Bras examines not only the consummate skill involved in running a Michelin three-star restaurant but also larger questions regarding legacy and the anxiety of influence. Spanning four seasons, Step Up to the Plate revolves around a particularly crucial moment for the Bras family: Michel is about to hand over control of the restaurant, located on a hilltop in the Aubrac region in south-central France, to Sébastien. Though his son has been his right-hand man for 15 years, the decision to relinquish control is not easy for Michel, whose very identity is indelibly bound up with his profession. For his part, Sébastian is eager to leave his own stamp on the family business, but he also still seeks out his father’s feedback on new recipes. Intelligent, jovial, and kind, Michel and Sébastien certainly make excellent company. Yet the real pleasure of Step Up to the Plate is watching the development of so many exquisite dishes. The meticulous arrangement of herbs on a plate, the delicate process of skimming “milk skin” from a simmering pot: These are just two fascinating procedures that the two culinary geniuses engage in while at work.
“The intelligence of the films of Paul Lacoste, who encountered success with L’invention de la cuisine, resides in his uncompromising curiosity with which he looks to include each of the sources of art: a creative tendency, a modest gesture or happy accident.”
Noémie Luciani, Le Monde
RUNNING TIME 86’
PRODUCTION France, 2012
RATING Not Rated
FORMAT(S) 35, Blu-Ray, DCP, DVD
The Cinema Guild