Sugar and Stars is based on champion pastry chef Yazid Ichemrahem’s own autobiography and stars Marwan Amesker as the 8 year old, and Algeria-born French influencer Riadh Belaïche as the 16/24 yr old Yazid . This story is about a young man who strives to be the best in the world of pastry-making, for his very survival. Ever since he was a little boy, Yazid dreamed of becoming a pastry chef; loving every moment his older foster brother spent with him in conversation about baking; longingly gazing at pictures of his favourite pastry chefs on his bedroom wall before he drifted off to sleep. Growing up in foster homes, his big dreams were like a means of escape from the life he was living. When he secures an apprenticeship at a prestigious Parisian restaurant, he suddenly had to learn to navigate the elitist pastry world under the guidance of the chefs he so idolised. Throughout his journey, Yazid must grapple with homelessness, family issues and a lack of belonging, completely set on his goal – to compete for Paris at the International Pastry championship. Nothing in his young life predestined him for such a career, but with his natural talent and the support of true friends, Yazid might just be one step closer to finding the secret ingredient to achieving his dreams, against all odds.
At its heart, this is a tale of one young man overcoming his troubled upbringing to achieve success in a field that saved him. For the foodies, there are also stylised slow-motion images of sumptuous creations as the background fades to black when Yazid's total concentration is on his craft. Eight year old Yazid easily gives his older counterpart a run for his money in his role. He has none of the awkward, clumsy traits the older Yazid grows into. Instead, he plays the part of an orphan-like child who is thrust into a role of responsibility and loss that no eight year old should have to take on. His life is sombre and serious, and young Marwan Amesker plays it with aplomb.
Though the older Yazid comes across as a little too wide-eyed, and clumsy at first, he comes into his own during the more serious and emotional scenes that tug at the heartstrings when you see what he has to go through just to achieve his dreams. At the beginning of the film when the story goes back and forth in time, it's a little difficult to work out who exactly is who in Yazid's home life, and if the young Yazid is actually the same as the older Yazid as their performances and personalities seem to not seamlessly stitch together. They felt like two different people. You'll work it out soon enough and follow its journey to a predictable ending involving a competition and a lot of ice carving.
Though the rest of the supporting cast fades into the background as the story concentrates on the young up and coming chef, each actor puts in a strong performance that forms part of a whole of Yazid's life, bringing warmth to their roles. Each performer extracting emotions from the viewer, one cannot miss. From Loubna Abidar as Yazid's mum, and Christine Citti and Patrick d'Assumçao as his foster parents - they carry a lot of understanding between them that comes full circle and touches the heart through acts of nonjudgemental kindness. His best friend Manu, played by Dycosh, brings comedy and lightness to the film, wrapped up in strong bonds of friendship. Cheffe Satomi, played by Minamoto, who adds a touch of humour to her serious station in the kitchen, and Victoria played by Sandrine Dumas who has a lot of say in the upbringing of Yazid. They're a wonderful supporting cast that adds light and shade, inciting emotions that could bring a tear to your eye. Overall, a lovely feel-good movie that's light and not over complicated to enjoy.