Published Dec 04, 2008Aesthetically resembling some of the earlier works of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, while liberally borrowing the French director's deliberately quirky and innocent, voiceover-heavy narrative structure, tossing in some coming-of-age political discontent and rounding out the mix with some Ma Vie En Rose defiance of social conventions, A Touch of Spice feels like many things, but never anything cohesive.
It brims with amusing anecdotes, slightly melancholic moments of displacement and social isolation but crams so many of these things together in such a mélange that a direction or destination is never entirely clear. Many of these moments individually are charming and affable enough to sustain the running time. However, a greater overall vision of a story, rather than a generalized reflection of times passed, may have proven more successful.
The story is told mostly in flashbacks, as Fanis (Georges Corraface) revisits, both figuratively and literally, his homeland of Istanbul from which he was deported as a child for being Greek Orthodox. Most of the film explores Fanis's childhood anxieties and insecurities following this tragic event, which manifested themselves via an obsession with cooking and a disinterest in typical boyhood monkeyshines, much to the chagrin of his parents (Ieroklis Michaelidis and Renia Louizidou).
In his adult life, Fanis travels back to Turkey to meet his childhood love, Saime (Basak Koklukaya), only to discover her married and with child.
Somewhere within Spice is a message about the impact political discontent has on innocent bystanders but mostly there are fond, if occasionally frustrating, memories of a childhood full of love and good intentions. Disappointment exists, as does a generalized rage about a lack of control, but truthfully that could be said for almost any childhood, which may or may not be the point. (Vagrant)