Hot Docs 2018: Our Review Of ‘Chef Flynn’

Hot Docs 2018: Our Review Of ‘Chef Flynn’

When we first meet a young Flynn McGarry, he’s a squeaky-voiced child with boundless energy. But hidden behind that youthful bombast is a smart, talented, and incredibly driven kid. Cameron Yates’ documentary, Chef Flynn, chronicle’s Flynn’s rise from boisterous youngster to a famous chef – which he achieves before his fifteenth birthday.

At the age of ten, Flynn – with the help of his classmates – began transforming his living room into a supper club. People came from far and wide to score highly coveted seats and experience Flynn’s “gastronomic delights.” On days off, Flynn would go into his room to perfect flavourful blends like a wizard in a tower practicing new spells. Flynn’s tricked out bedroom is unlike any child’s bedroom you’ve ever seen. Most kids clutter their rooms with movie posters, Xboxes, and sports equipment. Flynn’s room is packed wall-to-wall with cooking equipment; ovens, blenders, cookbooks, pans, and hot plates cover every surface.

Flynn’s mom, Meg, is a writer, actress, and filmmaker, and it shows. Meg keeps her camera locked on selfie mode, always corralling her son into the frame. Flynn is the modest one, preferring to dodge the camera’s gaze. Flynn’s preference to keep things low-key keeps us from getting to know him and robs the film of its soul. I watched Flynn work but I didn’t feel like I watched him grow.

Flynn’s remarkable story is ripe for a documentary film. People love uplifting stories about finding one’s passion and making good on one’s dreams. This film, though, feels like all frosting and no cake. It hits the beats you want from a documentary but still feels hollow. Chef Flynn’s story is fascinating but Flynn McGarry, the young man, less so.

Chef Flynn showtimes:
Saturday, April 28, 6:45 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre
Sunday, April 29, 10:45 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox 01
Saturday, May 05, 1:15 PM, Isabel Bader Theatre

This post was written by
Victor Stiff is a Toronto-based freelance writer and pop culture curator. Victor currently contributes insights, criticisms, and reviews to several online publications where he has extended coverage to the Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs, Toronto After Dark, Toronto ComiCon, and Fan Expo Canada. Victor has a soft spot in his heart for Tim Burton movies and his two poorly behaved beagles (but not in that order).
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