I have to thank my friend Ruby, the Wanderbites, for letting me peek one of his movie collections the other day and Big Night since then has been clinging on inside my mind as a must-watch movie.
It has been traditionally known that Stanley Tucci is a talented supporting cast in many movies. But that’s not a sad thing actually because in many occasions he’s also known as a great cook who has his own cookbooks and in this movie, he stars and also directs it fascinatingly.
Set in the 50s, two Italian immigrants in the US have been struggling with their ristorante business. On one side, Primo (Tony Shalhoub) as the chef and the older brother wanted to retain the originality of his brilliant dishes, not giving in to what people want. However, Secondo (Stanley Tucci), the younger brother and restaurant manager, respects his brother’s skill and wishes but realizes that sooner or later, they have to make a smart move to stay in business.
We have to remember that 50s was still the age where most American didn’t know yet the true extent of Italian cuisine. Even Primo in one scene explains to his sweetheart Ann that there’s a famous dish back in Italy named Lasagna Bolognese, a dish that we all know way too familiar these days.
Lovingly made with wits, Stanley Tucci further explores the character of Big Night’s casts by showing their comical expressions, love stories, and of course, the deliciousness of behind the kitchen scenes. Big Night takes its time in exploring the communication between the characters, from their natural awkwardness with their convo subjects up to the point where we will burst out with laughs. The film also takes us to a dimension where we get anxious about whether they will successfully put up great food for the guests when they’re about to cut open the good looking timpano or how we can literally drool upon seeing how the guests get so excited after having the lovely meal Primo has cooked for them.
Everything is so realistic and leaves us with a question whether we want to do our passion wholeheartedly or do the somewhat easy way of getting pragmatic. It’s something philosophical where many of us will encounter (or have encountered) during a certain stage in our lives.
Lastly, I have to agree with many other viewers who found the breakfast scene as one of the most memorable moments from Big Night. It’s a whole uncut scene where Secondo serves breakfast for his brother and their employee, Cristiano (Mark Antony). Even after intense conflicts between the two brothers, they get reunited once again upon an honest meal of omelette and bread.
BIG NIGHT (1996)
Drool Level: **** (gimme gimme!)
Director: Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci
Producer: David Kirkpatrick, Jonathan Filley
Screenwriter: Joseph Tropiano, Stanley Tucci
Starring: Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Isabella Rossellini, Tony Shalhoub, Stanley Tucci
Music: Gary DeMichele, Louis Prima
Editing: Suzy Elmiger
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Pictures taken from various sources