Eye For Film >> Movies >> Cru (2019) Film Review
Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson
The laser precision, pressure cooker tension and cut-throat atmosphere of a high-end restaurant kitchen are captured by Swiss director David Oesch in this gripping short, which deservedly took home the Student Visionary Award at Tribeca Film Festival . It could easily go on to collect a lot more accolades if coronavirus doesn't stop it making its way round the festival circuit.
A young chef (Jeanne Werner) has not long had this job but you can tell how much it means to her in every precision slice of her knife, her thinly veiled frustration with the sous-chef (Nic Aklin) and each fearful glance at the woman in charge (Malika Kathir). When something goes terribly wrong, she is determined not to let it get the way of serving the meal.
Oesch wastes no time in trapping us between the twin tensions of the kitchen - the need for almost surgeon-like skill when it comes to plating each dish and the flurry of energy required to get the food to that point. He shows tight control of these rhythms, flipping between them to make the activity in the kitchen feel even more intense and achieving in seconds what many more experienced directors would take the full running time of this short to set up, with cinematographer Ramón Königshausen showing controlled camerawork in the cramped environment. This immersion from the off is a rare skill in cinema and his ability to generate mood with food put me in mind of Beasts Of The Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin, who achieves something similar in the opening seconds of his recent Wendy.
Ten minutes isn't much time to tell a tale, but Oesch helps to build character through detail - the sous chef's bad habits, the pair of carving knives tattooed on someone's neck, a burn scar unexpectedly revealed. His team have also brought their A game, from the sweaty look of the chefs to the believable kitchen and restaurant environment and Janos Mijnssen's score that matches the kitchen energy without overwhelming it. Werner is also an actress very much on the up, bringing weight and emotional potency to the role. By the end, it's not just the young chef who has been through the mill, Oesch ensures our nerves have been shredded and fried along with hers.Reviewed on: 08 May 2020