Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story
(Brett A. Schwartz, 2016)
Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story screens at the AMC River East 21 on Monday, October 17 at 8:30PM and Monday, October 24 at 6:15PM. For additional ticketing information, refer to the Chicago International Film Festival website here.
Well-meaning but inconsequential, Insatiable: The Homaro Cantu Story isn’t the kind of documentary that provokes more questions, but rather leaves you wondering why the right questions were never asked in the first place. The film chronicles the trials and tribulations of Chicago-based chef and molecular gastronomist Homaro Cantu, whose shocking suicide in 2015 became quite the local media event.
Documentaries of this sort are prone to hagiography, but Insatiable is so self-consumed with presenting Cantu as some monolithic figure that it fails to convey the complexities that spurred his death. And really, for a film like this, what else is there? His wife’s absence from the documentary is not just noticeable, but a detriment to the existence of this whole project. Cantu leaves behind her and two children and director Brett A. Schwartz offers little more than a voiceover to that affect before moving on.
There’s a distinct sense that Schwartz had only so much material to use, whereby he relies – profusely – on online news articles or (groan) Facebook posts to highlight a point or transition from one sequence to the next. The camera pans from side to side on headline to headline, in what’s a baffling excuse for exposition. Cantu, as a figure, is magnetic enough to digest the film without much protest, but Schwartz’ inability to discriminate between valuable content and its opposite fails its subject.