Apron Strings – A Review

Apron Strings is a family and identity drama from New Zealand that tells the story of two families, one of British origin and the other Indian. Mixing food and the questions of identity, Apron Strings is a nice, if some what light, film that explores broader topics of identity through the familiar.

The British family has worked in the same neighborhood for years and watched it change and become more multi-ethnic. The proprietor of the shop, a woman of 62 years, is frustrated by the changes, particularly the garlic that comes from the shop next door. The proprietor’s son is a gambling addict who is in hock to the owner of a Vietnamese bakery who wants to buy his mother’s shop. At the same time, her daughter has just become a single mother, giving birth to a black baby, which does not please her. Eventually, the mother realizes that her son has to be kicked out of the house because he is only taking advantage of her. Despite the problems with her son she is able to reconcile with her daughter.

The Indian family is composed of two sisters, one who has a curry shop and is part of the Sikh community, but still single at 40, and the other who is a famous TV chef who has not seen her sister in 20 years. The son of the TV chef takes a job in the curry shop without telling his aunt who he is. The son begins to learn about his past and begins to turn against his mother some. When his aunt, though, finds out he is gay, she shuns him. His mother comes to see her sister and they reconcile and she convinces her sister to accept her son.

The strength of the movie is its even handedness. There are no monsters, just the little slights that life has: TV producers that want to make the chef into the sterotype of an Indian goddess; the familly that shuns the gay son; the mother unable at first to accept a mixed race grandson. In this sense the film veres away from long arguments and fights about identity and chooses a quieter, more meditative path. There are a few moments of violence and shouting, but in all the film tries to show identity affects the family. Every family member brings a different identity and each family member must deal with those as best they can.

In Apron Strings, though, the strength becomes a bit of a weakness in that all the problems within the families are resolved at the end of the movie. The resolution lightens the questions it did have, because in resolving an issue in a film, the audience is left with nothing to take away: resolution leads to niceness. Nothing ever resolves that easily.

Apron Strings spends quite a bit of time contrasting of food cultures: the curry shop, the macrobiotic diet of the daughter, the proprietor’s great cakes and bland British style cooking. I wish this had been a little bit more in the forefront. It might have made the movie just a bit more memorable.

Apron Strings is a good film with a nice story and worth watching if it ever comes your way.