Soul FoodSoul Food, centers on an African-American family held together by Mother Joe (Irma P. Hall) and her Sunday dinners - a tradition stretching back 40 years. "Soul Food," she says, "is about cooking from the heart." Her strategy to ensure family solidarity works until she lapses into a coma after a stroke. Without Mama Joe's ritual Sunday dinners, nurturing and centering presence to keep everyone together, the family begins to drift apart, with gaps widening between sisters and spouses. The three sisters and their families gather every Sunday around the kitchen table of their very own Mother Joe where they fellowship and dine to soul food items such as fried chicken, fried catfish, macaroni & cheese, greens, cornbread...makes you hungry just thinking about it! However, the family represents wholeness because Mama Joe raised her children not to let anything or anyone get in the way of family, each one is important.
Each sister represents only a part of the family system. For example, Terri (Vanessa L. Williams), the eldest, is a driven lawyer who puts work above her neglected husband, Miles (Michael Beach). Miles is tempted away from his steady, well-paying job by the lure of his true love, music, and away from his wife by the proffered charms of Terri's cousin, Faith (Gina Ravera). Maxine (Viveca Fox) is happily married to Kenny (Jeffrey D. Sams), and spends her days caring for her husband and three children. Bird (Nia Long) is newly hitched to ex-con Lem (Mekhi Phifer), an intense, caring man whose volatile temper often proves to be his undoing. Each daughter and spouse is a microenvironment of the family.
The one person with the key to the family's future is Ahmad (Brandon Hammond), Maxine's son. He realizes the importance of ritual and in the drama's finale pulls off a few surprises that come straight from his big heart. Mother Joe's legacy lives on in him. Ahmad represents system theory by trying to keep the family together like his grandmother did every Sunday. He would call everyone to gather at the house for Sunday dinner. He realized just because Momma Joe is in the hospital does not mean they cannot gather on Sundays.
In other words Soul Food, is a movie that represents patterns in a family system. By the family feasting every Sunday and gathering to discuss one another lives, rules and roles in the family. The children eat at different table from adults. The spouses wash the dishes and clean the kitchen. Each sister had a different role since the mother was sick. One sister cooks the meat, the other vegetables and the last one makes dessert.
One can learn about parenting from watching this video, and among contemporary American families each one governs differently in Soul Food. The situation in Soul Food was Mother Joe had a tradition going every Sunday dinner was at her house. She went into coma and the family began to fall into different conflicts and make decisions about one another. The family showed wholeness because they did not operate differently just because their mother was sick. Ahmad tried to keep his grandmother's legacy by keeping the family together. He even tried to cook one time and call the family for dinner. Finally, Soul Food can be described as a family system that is open. Since their mother was in a coma the situation did not change them as a family. They maintained the family as a group over time.