Oscar Wilde once wrote, “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.” That notion is put to the test in the film “Abe,” a dramedy that focuses on food, family and friction. Noah Schnapp, of “Stranger Things” fame, plays a 12-year-old aspiring chef curious about food and his family’s traditions. But learning about what customs to follow is complicated for Abe, given that he is half Palestinian and half Israeli.
Conflict reigns supreme at family dinners, thanks to Abe’s opinionated grandparents, who believe he must decide to be either Jewish or Muslim. Having been raised secularly by atheistic parents, the preteen has questions and concerns about the path he should follow.
Abe (short for Abraham or Ibrahim, depending on which family member you ask) attempts to please everyone by exploring both sides of his heritage, whether fasting for Ramadan or attending bar mitzvah services. But these are strange and unfamiliar practices to him. Where he is most comfortable is in the kitchen.
Through his love for cooking – and social media – he discovers a Brazilian chef and food blogger online who works locally to create fusion cuisine. The chef, Chico (Seu Jorge) soon takes Abe under his wing, where the young cook is eager to watch and learn.
Chico shares his knowledge and love of food, anchored in the core belief that mixing flavors can unite people. So when tensions escalate at home, Abe decides to use his kitchen experience to create a culinary “peace gathering” by cooking a Thanksgiving dinner that embraces both sides of his family. But will food be enough to bring his divided family together?
The film does a good job capturing the joys and angst of a preteen going through an identity crisis in today’s culture. It is not surprising he feels a connection to fusion cuisine. After all, combining different traditions from different cultures is at the heart of his own identity.