Bone in the Throat (2015)

2015 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL

boneinthethroatposterWill Reeves (Ed Westwick) is a sous chef at one of the finest establishments in East London, where he works alongside his girlfriend Sophie (Vanessa Kirby) and works for her father, Rupert (Rupert Graves). When Rupert continually comes up short of money for ‘Ronnie the Rug’ (Andy Nyman), he’s sorted out real quick and Ronnie makes Will watch. Ronnie is Will’s uncle, which makes mob bosses Charlie and Lewis (Tom Wilkinson & Neil Maskell) uncomfortable with the situation. It also doesn’t help that Detective McDougal (Steven Mackintosh) is snooping around their restaurants.

Will examines the bloody knife.
Will examines the bloody knife.

Bone in the Throat is the most interesting culinary crime film that I have ever seen, which may be due to the fact that I’ve never seen a culinary crime film before. Combining all the best things about London gangsters and close-ups of delicious looking food, this film finds itself exploring two genres quite well with one of the most entertaining casts I’ve seen in a long while. Many of the faces are familiar and even though you can’t pinpoint where you know the Brit from, you know that you love his character. This film does get a bit odd in places and the genre mash-up doesn’t always work, but this film is certainly refreshing and a bloody good time.

Ed Westwick is famous for his role as Chuck Bass on Gossip Girl, where he smolders and swaggers his way around a wealthy life. The smolder and swagger are still a part of his demeanor here, but he also happens to be one of the greatest chefs in London who gets mixed up with all the wrong people. He goes from playing sexy and smart, to scared and uncertain in a heartbeat and he’s actually tremendous in this film. He brings such reality to his character and his handling of situations and you find yourself concerned with his well-being in an instant. He’s a likable guy as is, but you can’t help but root for Westwick as his character grows into someone you’d never expect.

'Ronnie the Rug' is all smiles, while being covered in blood.
‘Ronnie the Rug’ is all smiles, while being covered in blood.

Andy Nyman is definitely channeling some Goodfellas Joe Pesci in this film with all his sporadic outbursts, but that British accent of his and his general craziness make him even more dangerous. He’ll headbutt you if you look at him wrong and he’s not afraid to chop someone up. Nyman is unpredictably good at keeping the audience grasping their seats and he’s also a ton of fun to watch. On the opposite end of the spectrum is Mackintosh, who’s calm and sarcastic demeanor make him perfect as the copper who loves to toy with the baddies. He knows what’s going on and though he can’t prove it, he knows how to play the game and manipulate everyone playing. Vanessa Kirby also has a fair amount of time on-screen and brings much a needed emotional involvement into the mix.

I’m a firm believer of the fact that on average, British drama’s and crime films are usually a step above the many we get of each genre in America. Their films feel less conventional and their actors completely lose themselves in the story. They’re also bloody and a bloody good time with all the British expletives and their lack of guns. Combining a mob movie with cooking seemed ridiculous, but there are many gorgeous shots of people eating and how they’re eating, which reveal a lot about their character. The knives in the kitchen can cut through nearly anything and you don’t need me to spell that out for you. Such great detail goes into preparing a meal and a kill, which makes this blend of genres work better than it should.

Charlie meets with Will to ensure that he won't rat.
Charlie meets with Will to ensure that he won’t rat.

There is a ton of British star power in this film and most characters get a large amount of focus on their stories, which made me more than mildly upset that we only spend a few minutes with Tom Wilkinson’s character. As the head honcho, he delegates his authority and then recedes to his own restaurant, keeping his interesting character way from the audience. John Hannah, an actor whom I hold near-and-dear to my heart, also has an intriguing bit part that only allows him a few scenes to shine. He’s not around for long which is frustrating, because he brings so much to the table. As far as glaring issues with the film go, the audio is incredibly loud and isn’t just focused on the actors. We hear the food sizzle, the actor speak, and the music swell all in one and it gets hard to hear what’s going on at the beginning of the film.

Bone in the Throat is incredibly gritty and makes for an entertaining time at the cinema. You’ll instantly recognize everyone in the cast from some BBC film/show and get behind their multi-layered characters in an instant. The food looks perfect, the score blends really well with the mood of the film, and there’s not a single bad performance to be found. Westwick shows that he can be a leading man, while also allowing tremendous supporting performances to take over as well. Real chef Anthony Bourdain has cooked up quite the story and it’s one that people should seek out if they’re looking for something oddly familiar, yet strikingly new.

Bone in the Throat Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qic8gBre4JI

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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