Celebrity Chef Oliver Byrne (Richard Coyle) may be a success in the kitchen, but after six months, gets bored of any romantic entanglement he is involved in. When he meets the mysterious and alluring Bibiana (Leonor Watling), Oliver struggles to avoid the six-month curse.
Irish cinema is not really known for producing romantic comedies, thank god then, that The Food Guide to Love is a co-production that not only exhibits the best of Irish humour and talent, but brings in the ideas of passion and romance from it’s Spanish star; Leonor Watling.
Richard Coyle does a great job of playing Oliver as an arrogant, self centred jerk who has just enough charm to draw people to him, but not enough to keep them interested. There is a glint in the actor’s eye that adds depth to the character, and his interactions with Watling are simply lovely. Leonore Watling is as mysterious and flighty as we could hope, but this is also what makes her character slightly irritating and selfish. Simon Delaney and Bronagh Gallagher once again prove that they have the strength to support the leading cast, and are both great in their small parts even though they do not have a huge amount to do. David Wilmot plays a highly caricatured and over the top character, and does well in the short amount of time he has on screen.
Writers Teresa Pelegri, Dominic Harari and Eugene O’Brien seem to have taken a leaf from Nora Ephron’s book, as they make Dublin a great setting for the film, and play with every trope from romantic comedies of the past. Some of the dialogue is a little hokey at times, and the ending feels more than a little trite, but there is plenty of Irish wit and outlandishness in there to bring the laughs, and enough touching and affecting scenes to give the film a little depth.
As directors Teresa Pelegri and Dominic Harari make Dublin look fantastic and new – even if some of the geography is horrifically off – and they capably bring the story and characters to life. That said, there is only so much that can be done with a romantic comedy to make it feel new and fresh, and even though The Food Guide to Love tries it’s best, some of the narrative choices in the film feel a little dated.
The Food Guide to Love shows Dublin in a new, exciting and surprisingly romantic light. The cast shine through in this quirky little tale of love and loss, but there is not a lot here that has not already been done in New York, LA or any number of glamorous cities around the world. The Food Guide to Love may not be about to change the genre of the romantic comedy, but it is an entertaining little diversion all the same.