Apron Strings Sima Urale

Apron Strings Sima Urale
Apron Strings is a food-centred, character-driven drama set in New Zealand. The film tells the parallel stories of two families struggling with interpersonal relationships and cultural identity.

Anita and Tara are estranged sisters. Anita (Laila Rouass) hosts a popular cooking show that exploits her Indian-ness and tries to capitalize on a culture she doesn’t feel part of. The more traditional Tara (Leela Patel) runs a curry shop and unknowingly hires Anita’s son Michael (Nathan Whitaker), who is seeking out the family and culture he’s never known.

Down the street, Lorna (Jennifer Ludlam) runs a bakery and struggles with the ethnic diversification of the neighbourhood, as well as her grown, unemployed son Barry (Scott Wills), who sponges off her while accruing gambling debts, and the homecoming of her unmarried, pregnant, vegan daughter. Slowly, both families are forced to confront their dysfunctions and deal with the legacy of secrets and hurt that have piled up over the years.

It’s a very well-observed film, intimately shot by first-time director Sima Urale, whose work here draws favourable comparisons to the likes of Mike Leigh and John Sayles. Urale uses lingering close-ups on both people and food to draw the audience deep into the world of the film. She is helped by an ensemble of truly talented actors, each layering their performance with the nuance and subtlety to rise above stereotypes and stock characters.

The script is a bit overwritten, at times, but for the most part allows the audience to draw its own conclusions about the complicated family dynamics. There’s a lot of heartbreak and disappointment in the film, which gets increasingly sad as the betrayals are revealed, but it is not without hope, as most characters eventually move towards some kind of redemption. (Great Southern Film LTD.)