The cook and his brother dish out a feast in Big Night

On its own modest terms, Big Night is about as close to perfect as any film I've seen all year. Any fault-finding may seem like rank ingratitude, but, hey, it's my job. There are a few moments where the editing seems a bit unsteady, and there's a jarringly overstated scene, when Primo raves to a friend that Pascal commits "the rape of cuisine." It isn't that this doesn't represent his feelings, it's that it states them too blatantly for his character (especially since he says it in English instead of Italian).

Primo doesn't need to say it at all; his actions already show how he feels. What makes Big Night so exciting is that, good as the rest of the dialogue is, the film isn't a talk piece. It's a movie of actions, of people doing things--cooking, eating, fighting, making love--rather than talking. A busboy (Marc Anthony) says maybe one or two lines in the entire film, yet by the end, we know him. Long passages of the film go by with no dialogue at all, just uninterrupted scenes of cooking. It's incredibly refreshing.

Big Night:
Directed by Stanley Tucci and Campbell Scott; with Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Isabella Rossellini, Minnie Driver, Ian Holm, Pasquale Cajano, Liev Schreiber, Campbell Scott and Caroline Aaron.


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