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The 'Vous (2022)

In the heart of Memphis, Tennessee there’s a magical place where celebrities from around the world gather, where families come to break bread, and waiters can make up to twenty-seven hundred dollars a night in tips. This magical place? A barbecue restaurant located in a basement, where the only entrance is in an alleyway–and it’s called The Rendezvous (The ‘Vous for short). Around seventy years ago the restaurant was opened by Charlie Vergos, and the rest is history–but the restaurant faces unprecedented change. Can it withstand these changes?

Food is a language that speaks to all of us, it’s something that can allow us to temporarily forget about the hardships of life and just appreciate what’s happening in the now. The ‘Vous does that for its guests–it allows them to indulge in the savory flavors of Memphis barbecue in a way that you can’t find anywhere else. The Rendezvous is world famous, with celebrities like Archie Manning, Bill Clinton, and more have filled their stomachs with the delicious food present at The ‘Vous–and this documentary, with all that it presents, wants to show the world why it’s been so successful for so long.

It all starts with the personalities present within the establishment. From Percy J. Norris to Nelson “Big Bobby” Ellis, this crew of waiters, chefs, and more pour their hearts and souls into this restaurant–and their bigger-than-life personalities are a major reason why it’s stayed open as long as it has. Directors Jeff Bailey and Jack Lofton are able to showcase these personalities in a way that everyone watching can understand. They understand who and what they are, not just as their professions, but as people. The ability of this crew to capture the truth about each of these individuals is essential, because it allows viewers to better appreciate all that is The ‘Vous, and the struggles and successes that come along with it. It’s only about an hour-and-forty-minute documentary, but it feels like we’ve spent a lifetime with the crew–as we learn so much about them in the process. Feeling like you’re part of this incredible family makes The ‘Vous even better, it invites us in, and it allows us to see nearly every intricate detail of this booming business.

Let’s be honest with ourselves: if we watch a documentary about food, we need that food to be showcased in a way that makes our mouths water, that makes us crave whatever it is that’s cooking. The ‘Vous does this, and it caused me to crave barbecue. That’s good for business, and I know that one day I’m going to make my way to Memphis for one very specific reason–The ‘Vous. My mouth literally watered as I watched the food being made, and as I salivated, I realized that this is one of the most well put together food-related documentaries that I’ve ever seen.

The ‘Vous knows what it is, and it makes sure to include every bit of what makes it appealing throughout the course of the film. From the massive personalities to the delectable food, The ‘Vous never stops giving viewers reasons to pay attention. From the opening moments until the film’s final seconds, every piece of this film is geared toward reaching its viewers, not just showing off what it has–and it’s successful in every way. I look forward to the day that I make my way to Memphis and try this incredible barbecue–and that’s all thanks to The ‘Vous.

Directed by Jeff Dailey & Jack Lofton.

Starring Percy J. Norris, Nelson “Big Bobby” Ellis, “Big Robert” Stewart, Calvin “Poohbear” Bell, Robert Cox, John Vergos, Anna Vergos Blair, etc.




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