Even though I speak the language and France has a rich cinema history, I don’t often watch French films. I’m making a bigger effort this year since I noticed that Waiting for Bojangles was the only French movie I’d reviewed. This movie, A la belle étoile is a movie based on the life of award-winning Pastry Chef Yazid Ichemrahem, and his book “Un Rêve d’Enfant Etoilé.” Cedric Ido is scripting and Sébastien Tulard is directing, it’s his first feature film after years of experience as a second unit or assistant director. Riadh Belaïche and Marwan Amesker star as Yazid in their first film, and they are joined by Loubna Abidar, Phénix Brossard, Lika Minamoto, Pascal Legitimus, and Jean-Yves Berteloot to name a few.
Premise: Since childhood, Yazid has had one big passion, pastry making. Raised between foster and group homes, the young man has forged an indomitable character. From Epernay to Paris via Monaco, he will try to make his dream come true: to work with the greatest pastry chefs and become the best.
Review: This movie is touching, and depicts Yazid’s road to success with all its ups and down but at no point it tries to make you pity him. You can feel that they are a lot of unsaid, and more roadblocks than what was shown here but it’s easy to fill in the blanks. There are still challenging and painful moments in this film but their effects are somewhat muted, like I said they’re not trying to make you pity him and his circumstances, or trying to force some tears out of you because of how rough he had it – or maybe I’m cold-hearted enough that I wasn’t as affected. I thought the movie had a positive lens on Yazid’s journey and focused more on his will and motivation to succeed, and the people that were there for him than his hardships.
The cast is good, Marwan as young Yazid is subtle and very communicative with his eyes alone. I didn’t know that Riadh is/was a Youtuber/Instagrammer but he’s a solid actor, he sold me on his portrayal of Yazid. The director also did a great job but you can see where he’s most comfortable and/or skilled because those pastry scenes looked so good, I wondered if they were stock videos or made for a commercial. The back and forth between young Yazid and young adult Yazid were seamless and nicely pushed the story forward.
This movie has a beautiful message about resilience, about how the difficulties of the environment you grew up in can be overcome, and become fuel to achieve your goals.