'Noma: My Perfect Storm': Film Review

Noma My Perfect Storm still 1 - H 2015
Courtesy of Pierre Deschamps/Magnolia Pictures
Strictly for the most ardent foodies.

Pierre Deschamps' documentary profiles the famed chef behind the hugely successful Copenhagen restaurant.

Only the most obsessive of foodies will find much of interest in Pierre Deschamps' documentary about the famed Copenhagen restaurant Noma and its revolutionary chef Rene Redzepi. Depicting in minute detail its subject's anguish over his restaurant's failing to win a third Michelin star and not heading the list as the world's best restaurant for a fourth year in a row, Noma: My Perfect Storm is pretentious enough to send you out the door to the nearest Olive Garden. It has all the flaws of the recent Bradley Cooper vehicle Burnt, only without the sex and the charm.

Founded on the principles of championing Nordic cuisine and using only local ingredients — no small achievement considering the Scandinavian climate — Noma has been a tremendous success, garnering endless accolades and attracting well-heeled dining aficionados from around the world. Everything has gone swimmingly — except, of course, for that nasty incident in 2013 in which more than 60 customers were made ill by a norovirus after eating at the restaurant, something that the film treats as a minor blip.

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Redzepi, who at various points is compared to Mozart and described as "changing the world," is portrayed as a tortured genius, one who seems motivated by his feelings of being alienated from Danish society when he was young because his father was Macedonian. His bravery is defined by such moments as when he profanely rejects the suggestion of outfitting his waiters with bow ties.

Besides featuring interviews with Redzepi, his parents, and various friends and colleagues, including famed chef Ferran Adria, for whom he worked at El Bulli, the film depicts the process of how the kitchen gets its ingredients via such segments as a profile of a Santa Claus lookalike who bounds through the forest foraging for mushrooms.

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And as with most food documentaries, Noma: My Perfect Storm showcases the preparation of dishes with an almost pornographic obsessiveness. But for all the gorgeously photographed scenes of the cooks preparing their fussily exotic creations (we rarely learn what it is we're actually looking at), none of the food looks terribly appealing. By the time you get to see a dish composed of ants crawling over an unknown white substance, you'll be craving a nice, simple piece of grilled fish.   

Production: Documentaree Films

Distributor: Magnolia Pictures

Director/screenwriter/director of photography: Pierre Deschamps

Producer: Etta Thompson Deschamps

Executive producers: Malte Udsen, Anders Holck, Ricardo Ceballos, Malene Blenkov, Michel Schonnemann, Etta Thompson Deschamps

Editor: Mike Brook

Composers: Frans Bak, Kld Haaning Ibsen

Not rated, 100 min.