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Review Big Night (1996): More than just Food Porn

genre: drama, comedy

Big Night is one of those movies that is difficult to put in a box because it does a lot of things but yet never feels convoluted or heavy. It's mostly a funny view on two Italian immigrant brothers named Primo (Tony Shalhoub) and Secondo (Stanley Tucci) who are trying to become successful with their restaurant but so far have failed to do so.


It is interesting to see the contrast between the brothers but when push comes to shove do have each other's back. Primo is the magnificent chef who apparently is not aware of the financial problems they are in and acts like a prima donna when it comes to his food. Of course he is right. Someone who is truly passionate about food puts a lot of him or herself in their food. If you critique the food you insult the man or woman who cooked the food.  But then again Primo also fails to understand that sometimes you have to make concessions and compromise to find a way to give what the customer wants and then maybe introduce the people to the delicious food he can make. Secondo tries to go out of his way to make the business run and at the same time give Primo the space to do what he needs. That does not make Primo a saint. Far from it. But he does have our sympathy throughout the film. 


The food plays a big role and when it gets served up it looks mouthwatering good. It's beautiful and if you think about it almost tragic at the same time. Since a lot of people never even will try out food that they don't know about. 


But there is so much more going on than food. We get a little glimpse of what life was like for immigrants back in the 1950's. And how some people who you thought you could rely upon or trust are capable of letting you down. But the main focus is on the relationships the main characters are having. Most events are not really that extraordinary or spectacular drama wise however not one single moment is boring or dull. It's a film that even when you can't quite put your finger on gets to you. You don't have to be a food lover like me to enjoy this film. The acting is incredible, especially by Tucci and Shalhoub as they give their roles a lot of depth but yet manage to keep it light and make it funny.  

Big Night is one of the reasons why I love cinema so much. If you want you can get a lot out of this film but if you don't feel like it you can keep it light and have a pleasurable viewing experience nonetheless. Do yourself a favour and go watch this if you haven't done so by now.

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