“Trubadeaux: A Restaurant Movie” is the fictional portrayal of an up-and-coming fine dining establishment owned and operated by two brothers, General Manager Lyle Reynolds and Executive Chef Antonio Reynolds. The movie, both filmed and set in Chicago, is the latest work by Group Mind Film’s John Burka and Jay Sukow (co-written by Todd Wojcik).
Trubadeaux is quite different from other films within the restaurant sub-genre, and you don’t have to have been in the industry to be able to tell that the creators have brought their own hard-won experiences to the table. Veterans of the kitchen and dining room, Burka and Sukow tell a tale that is almost uncomfortably authentic, and in which nobody comes out looking particularly good.
This is not your mother’s heartwarming story about how a love of food and the creation of something sensuous and fleeting make all of the sacrifice and hard work worth it. Nobody’s falling in love over a plate of spaghetti Bolognese, no one’s eating their way across the world to learn more about where they belong in the universe, and you can be sure that nobody’s learning anything that helps them grow or develop as a responsible, productive human being.
At Trubadeaux the restaurant work is often difficult, menial, and tiring, the customers are pompous and grossly misinformed about how their food should be prepared, and the manager and chef are so personality disordered that they are practically deranged. This is not a place where dreams come true for anybody, and this is what makes Trubadeaux such an interesting experience. There is a brutal and rarely captured honesty to the film, and it helps to highlight that to make a career out of this type of work you either have to be in love with it, completely crazy, or extremely desperate (or some combination of all three).
Unfortunately, this is also where Trubadeaux suffers. The Brothers Reynolds are, at their fundamental core, terrible human beings. There is absolutely nothing even remotely redeeming about either of them, and at times it can make the film transition from hilariously awkward into simply difficult to watch.
In particular, one phrase from the film — which is also featured in the promotional YouTube trailer — stood out for me: “These people are the scum of the Earth!” While America has grown to love the Anti-Hero, the Reynolds would be better described as villains. Both Lyle and Antonio are stupid, mean, and irresponsible, and it is very difficult to empathize with them. By the end you will honestly dislike the main characters, and it’s almost a relief to be done with them.
Even so, Trubadeaux: A Restaurant Movie hits a lot of very nice points. Both funny and awkward, it has a sincerity that is a nice change from the glossy portrayal of restaurant life that has become so popular in movies and on TV. Just be sure that you go into the experience knowing that at times it’s going to be rough, and that nobody is going to change for the better.
Trubadeaux: A Restaurant Movie, $5.00, available at groupmindfilms.com.