Abe

abeSTARS2Abe is a strange little movie.  On the surface, it presents a feel-good premise about a boy who simply wants to be a chef.  The title role is played by Noah Schnapp (Will Byers on TV’s Stranger Things) and in his hands, the character is sincere and likable.  Unfortunately, he must deal with some nasty turmoil at home.  You see his mom’s (Dagmara Dominczyk) family are Israeli Jews and his Dad’s (Arian Moayed) ancestors are Palestinian Muslims.  When both sides of these opposing clans come together they’re always fighting about “important” things like who invented hummus.  To make matters more confusing for this promising young boy, his parents fail to express any devotion towards either side of their respective religious cultures.  In fact, Father is a self-avowed atheist.  Abe has his heart in the right place.  He simply wants to unite the members of his conflicting families.  The budding culinary artist in him plans to cook a special meal that brings them all together by creating a perfect fusion of Israeli and Palestinian flavors.  It sounds earnest and sweet.   I was ready for one of those great food films similar to Babette’s Feast or Like Water for Chocolate.  Oh, how wrong I was!

Rarely have I ever been so disappointed by a screenplay’s utter failure to deliver on such a heartfelt thesis.  The thin, inconsistent script from screenwriters Lameece Issaq and Jacob Kader lacks even the most rudimentary understanding of what makes an emotionally satisfying story.  It’s difficult to explain why Abe is such a soul-crushing experience without getting into specifics.  Naturally, I won’t spoil the drama by revealing the ending.  However, I will offer that the principal adolescent — who is supremely charming — deserves better parents.  Abe is a bundle of fervent innocence filled with burgeoning optimism.   Meanwhile, Mom and Dad are demoralizing killjoys utterly lacking the emotional fortitude to even raise a child.   They are the absolute worst.  There are some nice details.  Brazilian Chef Chico (Seu Jorge) motivates him and the cinematography of food is attractive but this is a portrait of missed opportunities.   This chronicle should’ve been a buoyant movie about warm relationships.   Not even close…it’s actually a depressing comment on why some parents should seek counseling on how to be decent human beings for the sake of their children.  Occasionally the production offers brief glimpses of hope and inspiration — but this account was a profound disappointment.

04-18-20

2 Responses to “Abe”

  1. Yes. I wanted a way better movie. They could’ve done a better job. Had potential. They let Noah down. 2 stars.

    Like

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