Florent: Queen of the Meat Market
Documentary by David Sigal
Shuttered in 2008 due to escalating rent, Florent was a landmark in the Meatpacking District back when the neighborhood was still populated with actual meatpacking businesses. Florent Morellet, beloved owner of the legendary restaurant, welcomed diners of all ages, sizes and sexual disposition, and he turned the 24/7 diner into a hotbed of gay rights activism.
“Florent: Queen of the Meat Market” is an homage to Morellet, splicing together interviews with its subject and the diner’s many devoted patrons over the years (Isaac Mizrahi, Diane von Furstenberg and Julianne Moore are just a few of the luminaries who reminisce about the old days).
In a city where the wrong side of the tracks can become the right side of the tracks in a matter of months, it’s important to memorialize establishments such as Florent. Unfortunately, this documentary fails to tell the story with vibrance — and if any restaurant necessitates a vibrant documentary, it’s Florent, with its storied, colorful history.
The archival photos and footage are interesting for their historical value, but the plodding narrative is composed mostly of nostalgic soundbites. It’s charming at first, but rapidly grows repetitious.
“Florent: Queen of the Meat Market” is sweet, earnest and sometimes moving, but it plays more like a narrated slideshow than a meaningful documentary. Florent deserves a tribute with more vim and vigor.