STORY: In the early 70s, Henry Church (Eddie Murphy) arrives at the Los Angeles home of Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Brody (Britt Robertson) and her mother Marie (Natascha McElhone). Henry has been appointed by Marie’s former lover to cook and care for her school-going daughter and her, for a period of six months. However, Mr Church’s time with the Brodys extends into years during which time he becomes indispensable to them.
REVIEW: For starters, get introduced to an all-new Eddie Murphy. His trademark mirth goes missing as you meet the man who cooks, devours literature, paints, dances, and plays jazz music. And the victory of the film lies in the fact that though so many of his facets are revealed, he still continues to remain an enigma.
He begins his journey with the Brody family quietly taking charge of their kitchen with his culinary skills. Though young Charlie resents him initially, he eventually wins her over with his mouth-watering preparations. Not to forget, he also gives her reading tips that she later grows to value. Keeping Marie’s cancer a secret from the young girl, who doesn’t know that her mother is about to die, Church, who has had a troubled childhood, quietly assumes the role of a caring elder in the household.
The story told by Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy) unfolds in a fairy-tale style. It is shot lovingly, so the film exudes an old-world charm. Writer Susan McMartin keeps the viewer thoroughly engaged with two simultaneous tracks. One that speaks of Charlie’s coming-of-age challenges and the other that keeps the mystique around Church’s personal life alive till the end.
Murphy is subtle and brilliant as the subservient black man whose only aim is to give happiness to the mother-daughter duo, who he has been ‘gifted’ to. Britt Robertson also renders a heart-warming performance. Ditto Natascha McElhone. As the terminally-ill, beauteous Marie, her act gives you those lump-in-the-throat moments.
If you’re in the mood for some soppy, sentimental stuff, give this film a try.