Big Night (Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci – 1996) A+

Few and far between movies I can watch repeatedly, Big Night is one of them. I love this film. The story of two Italian immigrant brothers in the 60s with a struggling restaurant. The cook of the two, Primo, is an idealist, a brilliant chef who believes that he should cook what he loves and knows is good as opposed to catering to the low expectations of his potential customers like the bustling Pascal’s restaurant down the street from  him. His brother, Secondo, played by Stanley Tucci manages the front of the house and the money side. He knows they are drowning and would like to make some changes. We love Primo’s character, principles and passions, but we understand Secondo’s point of view and his desire to capture that promised American dream.

An opportunity arises when a famous singer is supposed to come to town and visit the brothers’ restaurant. A visit and dinner from a famous person might be just the type of publicity the restaurant needs. That’s the Big Night that Primo and Secondo pull all the stops for and cook an amazing feast with risotto, fish, suckling pig and the famous Timpano.

The film is a real gem with one of the most amazing performances by Tony Shalhoub as Primo. He comes across as sweet, vulnerable, uncompromising, stubborn and loving at the same time. He expresses so much in his face and even when he is speaking his non- native Italian. Stanley Tucci also does a great job as the younger brother who has immense respect and love for his brother but really has his own dreams and love life as well that he does not just want to abandon and go back to Italy. Big Night is a film that is as lovingly crafted as that Timpano that Primo baked and so carefully waited and waited till just the right moment to slice into it.

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