Grostein Andrade’s film ‘Abe’ is like eating a slice of blueberry cheesecake. You know how it will taste, but you still want it. And then you take a bite, you crave more. You’re left with a smile.
The film explores the story of a teenager, who just wishes to bring some unity into his fractious and warring family through food. Abraham Solomon-Odeh (Noah Scnhapp) is used to family occasions being a political and religious battleground. His family roots are rather complicated, as one set of grandparents is Israeli and the other is Palestinian. So basically they can’t see eye to eye on anything at all.
Though his parents claim to be agnostic, they can’t keep the peace at all. Everyone says they know what’s best for Abe, and they still don’t know where his passions lie. Abe is on a quest to bring peace, as well as to discover himself.
And so, Abe wonders how he can bring his warring family together. The answer is food. One day, he runs into Brazilian chef Chico’s (Seu Jorge) kitchen, which is a blend of South American, New York and Jamaican flavours. Afraid to attend some random cooking class camp where his parents plan to send him, Abe begs Chico for a job, and he reluctantly lets him take on an unpaid internship. He proves to Chico that he has the skills to curate a fusion cuisine.
Through Chico’s lessons of cooking, Abe learns some important life lessons as well.
The scenes featuring different delectables are deliciously strung together and add to the sweet flavour of the film. Abe hopes that the key to harmony in his household lies in the flavors of his grandparents’ homeland. The question here is, can he bring his Palestinian and Israeli families together?
The story builds up to a climactic meal, where the kid cooks Jewish and Palestinian food along with some Middle-Eastern snacks. Unfortunately, this does not go quite as planned as tensions are too deeply entrenched in the family to be rooted out by food. But there’s a lesson to be learnt here as well, as Chico imparts to a crying Abe.
Despite all these disagreements, however, the film strives to end on a positive and cheery note.
In a role that’s starkly different from his portrayal of Will Buyers in ‘Stranger Things’, Schnapp plays Abe with sensitivity and finesse. He doesn’t go overboard, and sometimes his perfectly restrained acting is just what the film needs. We almost want to trust his naive belief — that food can resolve a burning conflict, and wipe out years of ingrained biases and prejudice.
‘Abe’ is a 2019 film that has just been digitally released.