This charmingly titled film, showing at the SIFF Festival this week, is a Swedish romantic comedy about a young woman, Agnes (Rakel Wärmländer), whose innate love of cooking leads her to invest in a restaurant with a former co-worker from a fancy but staid French restaurant. While her business partner has the formal training, Agnes has only her mother’s intuitive cooking style – along with a cache of recipes, homely named the likes of “Maud’s Seafood Surprise.” But when their opening goes bust due to a bad review that Agnes sought by pretending to be romantically interested in a food critic named “Lola” who just happens to be her neighbor, it’s those homespun dishes that might salvage their investment.
Agnes tries to woo a food critic in Love and Lemons.
Then a kitchen disaster strikes at their re-opening, and Agnes must cook as passionately as her mom and try to win over the town’s most fierce food critic, “The Red Scare.” But even more importantly, can she make amends with David (aka Lola), the writer that she duped but ultimately fell for during the few weeks they "dated?"
Though the plot often feels contrived and corny, it’s saved by the earnest and bumbling Agnes who – aside from opening a restaurant – is on a quiet quest to find herself and figure out how to heal a broken heart. The food footage is also lovely and calls to mind old classics such as Like Water for Chocolate. Like that same film, Love and Lemons is also based on a novel. (Friday, May 23 at Renton IKEA Performing Arts Center; Sunday, May 25 at SIFF Cinema Uptown and Thursday, May 29 at the Egyptian Theater. See here for details.)