Estomago: A Gastronomic Story review
Mon, 18 Jun 2012 2:00p.m.
By Kim Choe
This film’s name is something of a misnomer. If you go in expecting a nice tale about a fine-dining chef, perhaps peppered with a little romance, you will leave extremely surprised and perhaps a little horrified. For Estomago ends up in a place far, far away from where it began. But it does so in the charming, unassuming style that many Latin American films seem to share.
The sequence of events manages to seem both utterly bizarre, and strangely normal. Hapless protagonist Raimundo Nonato wanders into a grubby Brazilian eatery, destitute and homeless, and winds up working in the kitchen. His culinary talents capture the taste buds of Iria, a brash prostitute whose appetite is as voluminous as she is.
The first hint there might be a more sinister side to Nonato is when the film jumps to a scene of him in prison. He’s the new guy, and moves up the ranks of the prison hierarchy in the only way he knows how – turning the unpalatable prison muck into near-gourmet meals using a makeshift stove in his cell and a few extra ingredients he has begged, borrowed, or bribed for.
So how did he come to be there? Well, that’s the mystery – and it involves the prostitute, a very fine bottle of Italian wine, the rear end of a cow, and a sprinkling of rosemary.
Estomago’s beauty is in its understatement. It hums along, but throws you a curveball every now and then, just to make sure you’re still there. It’s full of innuendo and irreverence, and yes, it’s sort of about food too – Nonato’s perky fried chicken snacks prove the perfect aphrodisiac to fuel his fateful relationship with Iria.
The film jumps back and forth between Nonato’s life in prison, and on the outside. It makes perfect sense – the parallels between the two are cleverly drawn, and as the story darkens, you will be drawn deeper into both worlds.
Estomago: A Gastronomic Story
:: Director: Marcos
:: Running Time: 112
:: Rating: R16
– Violence, offensive language, and sex scenes
::Estomagois playing as part of the Latin
American Film Festival – on now at selected centres around New Zealand. Click here to view an online copy of the festival programme
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