Critics' Pick

Florent: Queen of the Meat Market (NR)

Documentary 87 min.
By Mark Holcomb
Real-estate mania triumphs in Florent: Queen of the Meat Market, David Sigal's defiantly buoyant account of the life and death of iconic Manhattan Meatpacking District restaurant Florent, but its opponent doesn't go down without making some noise. Florent Morellet, owner of the 24-hour Gansevoort Street eatery that bore his name for 23 years, lost a 2008 rent battle as Sigal was in the midst of shooting a doc about the diner and its owner, staff, and clientele. Florent is an elegy purely by accident, then, and that helps it avoid becoming a morose lament for lost cultural totems ("New York is about change," as Morellet acknowledges) in favor of a briskly paced, unselfconsciously edited celebration that matches the giddy vibe of its namesake. Sigal has a gift for letting his subjects speak for themselves, and the result is an intimate portrait of a place where NYC's LGBT community, neighborhood locals, not-infrequent celebrities—Julianne Moore, Isaac Mizrahi, Christo, and the Village Voice's Michael Musto, among others, provide commentary—and just about anyone else could hang out. Florent's closing is nowhere near as upsetting as the demise of some other Gotham landmarks, but Sigal makes a convincing case that every such establishment lost to the bottom line is a hit to the city's once-legendary inclusiveness.
David Sigal


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