Cinema Review: King Georges | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Wednesday, February 26th, 2020  

King Georges

Studio: Sundance Selects
Directed by Erika Frankel

Feb 24, 2016 Web Exclusive
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It's by now a familiar scene for food fanatics: the chef barks at his staff, swears, and smashes dishes he deems unsatisfactory, sullying the floor with expensive ingredients. But this time it's not a reality show, and the kitchen tyrant isn't Gordon Ramsey. Instead, we are given a glimpse into the fiery process of Georges Perrier, the famed French chef who opened the renowned Le Bec-Fin restaurant in Philadelphia in 1970. King Georges is an aptly titled new documentary about Perrier's revolution of, and reign over, Philadelphia's dining scene, along with his downfall and redemption. 

This is a committed film that follows Perrier over several years. Like any cook's tale worth its sauce, the movie vividly captures tantrums in the kitchen. And while Perrier is certainly tougher than the dish he lambasts a staff member for burning, director Erika Frankel is smart enough to go light on such spice. She also flavors the film with plenty of glimpses at Perrier's sweet side, as he accepts a birthday card from a staff member, greets his guests, and chats with market vendors in the wee hours of the morning. More importantly, Frankel takes great care to capture Perrier's ravenous culinary commitment. These ingredients converge in the film's best scene, where Perrier engages in some good natured—but cleaver-sharp—ribbing of a cook who complains about fatigue. Another fantastic aspect of King Georges is the way that Le Bec-Fin's staff handles gas leaks and other disasters, along with deft (but never doting) close ups of Perrier and his staff mixing ingredients, dicing veggies and torching dishes. 

It's not a perfect film—the first act is quite long, leaving viewers hankering for more of the meaty, but all too lean, midsection about Perrier's frenzied closure of his Le Bec-Fin. Still, the vividly detailed behind-the-scenes glimpse of one of America's best kitchens, along with a holistic view of the title character, make King Georges a flavorful treat worth savoring.

Author rating: 7/10

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