Finally saw a fillum that I’d wanted to see for a while now. It’s called ‘The Trip’ and stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. I’ve been quietly watching the career of Steve Coogan for some time now but have to confess I’d not heard of Rob Brydon before. It turns out they’ve worked before on two other Michael Winterbottom films, ‘24 Hour Party people’ (a fave of mine) and ‘Tristram Shandy, a cock and bull story’.
Apparently the movie is based on the TV series of the same name though I’m not sure if Winterbottom directed it and it did seem like a series of skits knitted together with some truly beautiful Northern English scenery used as segues into each. I got past the obvious cliché of the countryside slowing a person down in order to reflect and enjoyed the landscape and the meditative mood it set, especially with the beautiful music accompanying it.
Coogans character, playing himself, has been assigned to review some posh restaurants in the North of the country for a weekend newspaper. His girlfriend was due to come with him but they’re going through some personal boundary adjustments and he finds himself companionless for the trip.
He calls an old friend whom he has obviously not seen much of to accompany him after confessing that he had invited several other people to come however all had declined. What could have been an incredibly awkward moment is saved by the enthusiasm of Brydons character and hints at his optimistic and good if eccentric nature.
Coogan the character seems mired in the shallow pool obsessed with fame and celebrity and constantly bemoaning that he’s been overlooked for roles he feels he’s deserved. To me there are comparisons to be made with Ricky Gervais’s character in Extras who finds commercial success only to sabotage it for the allure of auteur status. His companion, a very gifted mimic and comedian though not of the star status that Coogan enjoys, seems to not let Coogans sniping and one upmanship get the better of him. It’s a great foil to see Coogans dispassionate and casual bed hopping with the Hotel receptionist and Spanish photographer and Brydons blissful life at home with his loving wife and new baby daughter. How does one measure success? Brydon by comparison, seems content, sensible and though prone to frequent hilarious comedic outbursts, is actually acting his age.
Over ten meals they discuss various aspects of their careers, friendship, and comedy and of course amazing impressions of Michael Caine, Woody Allen, Al Pacino and a few more I can’t recall. Trivia: I think Brydon orders scallops in some form or another for every starter at each restaurant-hows that for food nerdism by me?
There are several shots of food being prepared in the restaurants they visit and of the plated dishes as they arrive at the table. What struck me though was how unmoved they were by it all. It was also interesting to me that for all the trouble, blood sweat and tears the chefs poured into the meals, little was spoken about them much at all apart from a few funny quips here and there.
I found this very illuminating from the point of view of a chef. I’m sure many chefs watching this movie would be distressed that their plated constructions were not being fawned over like they imagined they might be, as if this, surely is the only reason to visit a restaurant? This point resonated with me, not because I am unable to see that not everything is about food, even if this film kind of is about food but more that people go out for different reasons not just what’s on the plate. I found the scene where both characters were the most animated and enthusiastic was when they sat down to a Full English breakfast outside in the glorious morning sun, all that posh eating apparently behind them.
I imagine the restaurants were real places so this might explain why there were no concrete criticisms levelled, though the way a very formal waiter explained some of the more Avant garde meals at one establishment had me giggling at the absurdity of it all. Coogans girlfriend , a foodie, had apparently picked the restaurants and I took his almost ambivalent approach to them as a way of coming to terms with his confusion at where he wanted to be in his life and where, in reality, he was. Safely back at home, Brydon and his wife share a humble bowl of something together and to me at least, this looked like the meal he most enjoyed.
As a food movie it’s OK, well it’s actually not a food movie per se, however it’s refreshing to see a movie that takes its time to reveal itself and rewards the patient.