David Gelb’s “Wolfgang”: Film Review

“The older a person gets, the more they tend to look back…”

Christina Puck

More than just a fluff piece, Wolfgang is a reflective journey for the world famous restaurateur. Starting at his days as an impoverished child, the audience is witness to Puck’s constant self-doubt and fear of failure. These early scenes that touch on his abusive past provide insight into why Wolfgang’s enterprise grew at such a rapid pace.

Puck’s continued push to maintain trendsetter status throughout his middle-aged years was to avoid his past where he was considered a failure. By constantly growing his cooking empire, he would be too busy to think of himself as ‘good for nothing’.

In that way, Wolfgang is about the chef, now close to the end of his life, accepting and embracing his past through the celebration of his successes; a living obituary of sorts. While the mix of celebratory and meditative tones works wonders for David Gelb’s documentary, Stenfert Charles almost drowns it all out with an incredibly bombastic score. Thankfully the rest of the film is so earnest and sincere, that a kind of teetering balance is found.

Towards the end of the film Wolfgang profoundly asks himself:

“Am I a chef? Am I a restaurant? Am I a character? Am I a guy who has never enough?”

To this reviewer and thousands of inspiring chefs across the globe, Wolfgang Puck is an inspiration and a testament to how far passion and hard work can get you in this life.

The Silver Lining

While Wolfgang is full of tiny moments of introspection, the best ones are between Wolfgang and his sister, Christina. As they share childhood memories with one another, there’s so much left unsaid between the siblings. While he has now come to embrace family in his elder years and despite having amassed a fortune, he can never get back the decades of time he lost with Christina.

Wolfgang and Christina Puck

Wolfgang is available now on Disney+.

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