Because, of course, “Big Night” is a restaurant that closes, a restaurant that fails. The film takes place over a few days, as Secondo tries to find a way to prevent his and Primo’s hectic restaurant, Paradise, from collapsing. Despite Primo’s genius, the restaurant is doing anemic business due to the fact – at least according to rival restaurateur, but avoncular Pascal (Ian Holm), that the chef is too valuable for his food and doesn’t want to make concessions to it. who is American. customers unfamiliar with southern Italian cuisine in its purest form might want to eat. Indeed, when Secondo suggests that Primo perhaps remove the expensive and unpopular seafood risotto from the menu, Primo thinks he can replace it with hot dogs. “They might like it,” he said.
In a last ditch effort to save their business, Secondo, with Pascal’s help, hosts an invitational dinner at Paradise, during which a reporter will cover the event, because, as Pascal has promised, his friend, Le great conductor and jazz singer Louis Prima will make his appearance. So the stage is set for a mostly light-hearted, at times romantic and very funny comedy, but steeped in everyday realism, and also loaded not only with the suspense inherent in seeing if Secondo’s plan will pay off, but also with subplots that the public knows will eventually blow Something above – specifically the revelation that Secondo is cheating on his girlfriend Phyllis (Minnie Driver) with Gabriella (Isabella Rossellini), who also happens to be Pascal’s wife. Needless to say, each of these people will be at the party.
Twenty-five years later, “Big Night” is resisting like gangbusters. As funny and filled with wonderful and charming performances as the movie is – Tucci and Shalhoub are both basically perfect, Holm acts like a wild pixie throughout, Driver effortlessly delivers the kind of performance that was once called ‘winning’ – nevertheless imbued everywhere with an inescapable melancholy. There is a great photo, just before dinner starts, just before the real night’s work starts, of Cristiano (Marc Anthony), the bus boy and the waiter at Paradise, coming out, in the twilight, to smoke a cigarette and the camera goes up in the air to show the emptiness and calm of New Jersey streets. It cuts to a pan along the long table and its simple and elegant glasses and cutlery, white napkins and tablecloth, before switching to Secondo, Primo and Cristiano, standing together, dressed for work, all in the lineage of Matteo. Salvatore. magnificent “Mo Ve’la Bella Mia Da La Muntagna.” The shot creates a pretty intense sense of anticipation for the party about to begin (a bit counterintuitive, given the sweetness of the two shots), but also feels ineffably sad. Somehow, maybe, the audience knows what’s to come.