Directed by Anthony Byrne, starring Emma de Caunes, Rade Serbedzija, Cosma Shiva Hagen, Jack Dee, Paul Kaye, Tatiana Ouliankina, Paschal Friel, Vanessa Redgrave, John Hurt, Vincent Fegan and Jon Polito.
Set against a backdrop of culinary endeavours, 'Short Order' fuses food, odd personalities and bizarre environments to whip up something that is certainly a rare delicacy, only not the kind you'd be eager to seek out a second time.
Playing out over one long night in an unidentified place (perhaps a very flamboyant, cultured corner of Ireland, if the barman's accent is anything to go by), this film blends one too many genres and ends up very unsure of what it is trying to serve up as a result.
All of our protagonists are in the business of food, as chefs (or deluded master chefs), waiters, delivery people or critics. Their lives are intertwined in an odd set of coincidences and circumstances, as they each strive for something more than what have become their humdrum lives, while all the time chain-smoking the same lives away.
First there's Paolo (Serbedzija), a once great chef who cooked for the likes of Frank Sinatra but is now punching in the days and nights with a miserable existence at his short order food outlet, which serves up questionable dishes (including human digits!). Then there's Fiona/Fi Fi (de Caunes), the girl next door literally - head/only chef at the kiosk on the corner, ably assisted by her delivery girl Catherine (Hagen), who is the only one who seems in any way happy with her life. Add to the mix, Paolo's crazy assistant Pedro (Friel), rival crazy chef Sebastin Gruel (Fegan), and restaurant owner Felix (Hurt) and some tension begins to brew on the food circuit.
Beginning as a colourful musical, 'Short Order' clearly chooses style over substance from the outset, but the array of freeze frames, bold colours and exotic accents dazzle only temporarily. As we delve into the 'story', each character shares snippets of their own life with us, but only enough to scratch the surface of who they really are. Some reprieve comes from the food anecdotes of the various chefs and street traders but it is always fleeting.
Vanessa Redgrave and Tatiana Ouliankina (of 'Fair City' fame) are convincing though in their cameo roles, adding a certain sense of sophistication to the proceedings and upping the implied sexual tension. But undoubtedly it will be comedian Jack Dee who steals the show for most, for his portrayal of food critic Harry, really capturing the burned out hack to perfection.
Not as hot and spicy as the opening sequence promises, 'Short Order' is certainly quirky, colourful and lively but has very little substance behind the flashy menu.