Watched: September 15 2021

Directors: Campbell Scott, Stanley Tucci

Starring: Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver, Marc Anthony, Isabella Rossellini, Ian Holm, Allison Janney, Liev Schreiber

Year: 1996

Runtime: 1h 49min

Like Pulp Fiction, Big Night also gets to skip ahead in line because of Kosmorama Film Festival’s fantastic Culinary Cinema program. On September 15th we enjoyed a lovely meal inspired by the even lovelier movie we were watching during the meal. What else can two gals ask for?

A couple of eccentric yet charming Italian brothers with a penchant for good food and wine, perhaps? Trouble is we’d be fighting over Tony Shalhoub…

Brothers Primo (Shalhoub) and Secondo (Tucci) run an Italian restaurant in New Jersey. And when we say Italian restaurant we mean Italian restaurant. Primo will not compromise on his food – it will be just the way he learned to make it, thankyouverymuch, despite the New Jersey palate not appreciating his traditional cuisine.

“Don’t kill the customers, Primo. Just serve them their triple order of starch like they ordered. It’s not worth the hassle.”

Secondo, who’s dating Phyllis (Driver) while secretly sleeping with Gabriella (Rossellini), goes to rival restauranteur Pascal (Holm) to ask for a loan to keep their business afloat. Pascal refuses the loan, but offers to get a famous singer to come eat at the brothers’ place to draw in customers and publicity. Oh, by the way Pascal is married to Gabriella. Just to further complicate things. Primo and Secondo pour their last savings into the menu for their Big Night – everything must be perfect for their famous guest! But will the investment pay off?

And will Secondo manage to keep his two girlfriends separated for the evening? Such drama!

Big Night is charming, funny and a bit sad, with wonderful performances from its entire cast. At the heart of it is the relationship between the two brothers, which is loving yet volatile – just like ours. Food culture and authenticity are also major themes, and the chef is portrayed as an artist – not “just” a craftsman. Apparently, there was a whole movement in the ’90s where food stopped being food and started being art. We’re not mad at it.

Although sometimes, a simple breakfast hits the spot juuuuust right.

Watching Big Night makes you crave Italian food in a major way, so the only way to watch it is really at an Italian restaurant while being served food inspired by the movie- including a delicious timpano. So next time you go out to eat, why not bring a TV?

We’re pretty sure Primo would stab us to death if we ate his food in front of the TV tbh.

What we learned: Authentic cuisine is some serious shit!

Next time: The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968)

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