Abe is a heart-warming coming of age film about twelve-year-old Brooklynite Abraham who is born to Palestinian and Israeli parents and attempts to bring his torn family together through the magic of food, though Abraham finds himself struggling with his identity because of his differing religious heritages.
When Abe’s duo-religious parents bring him to a cooking summer camp, he instead ditches the kiddy club and goes to learn from Brazillian fusion chef Chico, who Abe meets at a street food stand. Chico almost becomes a father-figure for Abe during this turbulent time in his life, allowing him to indulge in his love of food and come up with creative solutions to solve his problems at home.
Directed by Brazilian filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade and starring Stranger Things‘ Noah Schnapp as the lead, Abe tickles your tastebuds with a loveable cast, but unfortunately turns out undercooked and leaves you with a some-what undesirable taste in your mouth due to its lacklustre plot, caused by awkward pacing and muddy, overzealous editing.
Despite this, though, the underlying message is that of understanding and healing within feuding religious groups, and what Abe does beautifully displays this through the art of cooking.
It was intriguing to see the different food from the two cultures and how Abe used the cuisine to be in touch with his heritage. Though, it was also interesting to see the dilemmas caused by these differences, such as the fact that Jewish Israeli’s use chickpeas to create their Falafel, whilst the Palestinian’s use fava beans, and how this is such a hot button debate based entirely on identity. This helped create an intensity within the family arguments, and how these quarrels cemented the identity of Abe’s split family, but did nothing but distance him from his relatives.
Though one could argue that the theme of Abe trivialises the complex and longstanding conflict between Palestine and Israel, the underlying message is heartfelt and is vital to the story.
Abraham’s character conflict is the strongest source of emotion throughout the film, being born to Palestinian and Israeli families causes him to struggle to keep either side content.
An example of this would be his mother’s Jewish side coercing Abe into having a Bar Mitzvah, whilst he feels obliged to participate in Ramadan to keep his father’s side proud. This culminates with Abe attending a friends Bar Mitzvah, only to be bullied for being half Muslim by some of his Jewish peers, though the altercation is brief, Abe’s social life is something I wish the film went into more depth with.
The use of editing is novel, to say the least. Abe utilizes modern internet culture through the use of social media to make the character of Abraham more relatable. This is done by overlaying Abrahams Tumblr and Instagram account to show his online presence and how he is perceived by his peers. Although this is a matter of taste, for me the use of this technique provokes an out-of-touch feeling and doesn’t add to the film, rather it makes the film seem amateurish in its attempt to seem stylish.
Nevertheless, Abe is an enjoyable and endearing film only made more so by the mouth-watering food and the charming acting of Noah Schnapp, who really seems to come into his own. If you’re interested in watching a refreshing, light film, I would consider giving Abe a go, though if you’re looking for something with more depth I would consider looking elsewhere.
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