Big Night - Rated Simmering

This is a film with a heart as well as a stomach.

The relationships between the characters are as real and complex as anything I remember in recent cinema. These people are lovingly drawn by someone who knows them well. The restaurant and food are shot with care, and look beautiful, bathed in a warm, golden light. Stanley Tucci (Richard Cross from Murder One) and Tony Mahmoud, who play the two brothers, actually worked in Italian restaurants for a year in preparation for their roles. This care and attention to detail shows in the film: it gives the film a depth and a texture which distracts your attention from the fact that the plot is pretty minimal. But plot is not really the point here.

Stanley Tucci not only acts, but co-wrote the film with Joseph Tropicano, and co-produced and co-directed it with Campbell Scott. They all obviously have a huge affection for the Italian family and way of life. And they have great respect for Italian restaurateurs. This film celebrates the professionalism of the restaurateur in a way that is reminiscent of the great Howard Hawks. Big Night is a film about the classic Italian attitude to food, sex, love, and hence life. And so I see the fim as an essay on how to live.

The final scene is as moving as anything I remember in cinema. The wordless communication between the two brothers - and their kitchenhand - reminds us that this is what cinema does best: it shows, rather than tells.

So see this film - and be sure to have a great Italian meal afterwards.