Bone in the Throat may be based on Anthony Bourdain’s novel by the same name, but quite a bit has changed. No longer is the story set in New York; it’s now moved to London. And replacing young chef protagonist Tommy is young chef Will.
Ok, maybe that second change isn’t so big, but while I haven’t read the book, director Graham Henman and his co-writer Mark Townend suggested they’d diverted in several other ways from the source material. Will is played by Ed Westwick of Gossip Girl fame, shedding his American accent here for his true British one. And although I am unable to compare his performance here to Gossip Girl, I am able to report he does a nice job. Westwick was on the project virtually from the get-go, and Henman said he liked Westwick’s ability to play a very inwardly-focused character and emote through small details in the face and eyes. This is important because the plot has Will caught between competing forces in the mafia and police, and spends a lot of time stewing. (A good thing, it’s not just idle brewing.) He’s complimented in the cast by Andy Nyman (Death at a Funeral) as a delightfully sleazy and easy to anger low level mobster and Vanessa Kirby (About Time) as his girlfriend who’s father was also in deep with the mob. Tom Wilkinson also makes a brief but quality appearance as a head mobster and restaurateur.
This was one of my favorite movies so far of SXSW. I’m a little bit of a sucker for high-end food, which this features some of, but moreover a high-end restaurant provides a somewhat unusual background for a mobster movie. The dialogue and plot are both very sharp as well. There are some wheels-within-wheels turning on both the police and mob side of things, not to mention Will’s relationship with both Sophie (Kirby) and his Uncle Ronnie (Nyman), but that intrigue is always compelling without being confusing. Which is important, because the movie really lets you savor its ending. There are a number of different plot threads that weave into the main line, and the conclusion of the film makes a point of only tying up one at a time. It makes the plot feel incredibly fulfilling, but it also holds tension without creating the need for a grand last minute reveal.
Henman said he’s still at work tightening up a little of the music and color on Bone in the Throat, but here’s hoping someone gives it a good release. It deserves one.