Mr. Church (2016)
Genre : Drama
Country : USA
Eddie Murphy : Henry Joseph Church
Britt Robertson : Charlie
Natascha McElhone : Marie
“The wise son seeketh the father’s instruction,
but the scorner heareth not rebuke.
I don’t give a shit.”
This task was entrusted to him by Richard Cannon. He was once the lover of Marie Brody (Natascha McElhone) who left him after discovering that he was already married. However, he promised that he would always take care of her. Even after his death. If it turns out that Marie is terminally ill and only has six months to live, her daughter Charlie (Natalie Coughlin) discovers one morning there’s a “black man” making breakfast in their kitchen. And from that day on Mr. Chruch conjures delicious dishes out of his culinary magic hat. So, you can expect a whole series of hunger-arousing images. It’s almost similar to a Jamie Oliver TV show. Afterwards we come to know that Marie is still fighting her terminal illness after six years. Church’s role as family cook slowly disappears into the background and over time he becomes the paterfamilias and acts as a father figure to Charlotte (Britt Robertson).
Here, where I live, the remark after watching this movie would be “Wow, what a lovely film this was!“. Granted, it’s packed with cliché elements as used in any melodramatic coming of age film. The course is extremely predictable. Not much imagination is needed to realize that the roles will be reversed at any given time and how it’s going to end. Both at the beginning and at the end they used the same text fragment “Henry Joseph Church could have been anything he wanted. He chose to cook.“. A subtle clue pointing at the cyclical nature of the film. But despite being a typical tearjerker, this film was able to captivate and fascinate me. Maybe because from time to time I need to watch a more positive film. Most films are about the evil side of a person. This film is about loyalty, affection, offering some help during hard times and the importance of family ties. You can start whining again about the possible racist tone and thus seeing Mr. Church as the happy, cheerful house negro who serves a white family. A kind of modern “Uncle Tom” in other words. It didn’t feel like that for me. And I’m convinced you missed the essence of the story.
But what’s Mr.Church’s big secret, anyway? He loves jazz. That’s clear from the first moment. He’s probably a jazz pianist. I noticed that he was pretending to play a piano on his knees while smoking a cigarette outside and listening to a jazz song in the background. He also mentioned it in a subtle way to Marie. And his visits to the nightclub Jelly (Charlie discovered this by accident when she was driving around the city with Poppy), a neon-lit bar you instantly have feelings about that it’s a jazz club, seemed to me the appropriate place to find an audience for his talent. He paints, reads literature and uses secret ingredients while cooking. But are these really such big secrets that one should remain silent about it? Hearing what Mr. Church said when he came home drunk, I have a feeling it’s more about his sexual orientation.
I’m a sinner!
Who’s a fagot?
You the goddamn fagot. “
It stays a secret all the way. Nothing but praise for Eddie Murphy who attempts to get rid of his stand-up comedian label. And he succeeds perfectly. It’s a pleasure to see him playing the two opposing Mr. Churches. On the one hand a dutiful and human figure. On the other a tormented person who still hasn’t come to terms with his past. Also the acting of both Natascha McElhone as Britt Robertson can be called excellent. Especially the moments with Murphy and McElhone are sublime. Maybe it all feels a bit corny and old-fashioned. But it still remains a lovely film.