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Primo and Secondo are two brothers who have emigrated from Italy to open an Italian restaurant in America. Primo is the irascible and gifted chef, brilliant in his culinary genius, but determined not to squander his talent on making the routine dishes that customers expect. Secondo is the smooth front-man, trying to keep the restaurant financially afloat, despite few patrons other than a poor artist who pays with his paintings. The owner of the nearby Pascal's restaurant, enormously successful (despite its mediocre fare), offers a solution - he will call his friend, a big-time jazz musician, to play a special benefit at their restaurant. Primo begins to prepare his masterpiece, a feast of a lifetime, for the brothers' big night... Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
Primo, Tony Shalhoub's name in Big Night, translates as "First". Secondo, 'Stanley Tucci''s character, translates as "Second". This relates to their birth order in the film. It is briefly referenced in the Cadillac scene when Secondo meets Bob (the car salesman played by Campbell Scott). (Additionally, Shalhoub's character in The Impostors (1998) was named Voltri, First Mate - a possible reference to Primo.) See more »
In the final scene of the "big night" dinner the wine bottles across the table and in the kitchen with Secondo all have the trademark pink DOCG label on the bottle stem. The DOCG pink label was released in Italy only in the 1990s; the movie is set in the 1950s. See more »
[offers a taste asking opinion in Italian]
Not too fine, eh? Sometimes you cut it too fine, then all you taste is the garlic!
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I just need to mention that this is my friend's review that I wanted, with his permission, to share with you. I believe his meticulous view has discovered a veiled aspect which most of us have missed.
`Big Night' is a movie not so much about food and Italian cuisine but rather about cultural encounter and identity crises that most immigrants face upon their arrival in the new homeland.
The story cleverly unfolds the multi-personalities of an immigrant's character in a metaphorical representation. A character that is overwhelmed in a fierce inner struggle, constantly striving to reach a desired compromised. The big night is a milestone in an eventful and often chaotic journey. It's a moment for close encounter with reality.
The movie is about two brothers, Italian immigrants, trying to run ` Paradise' a gourmet restaurant. Primo is an uncompromising chef, who wishes to educate Americans to appreciate `The Real Italian Food'. Despite the obvious failure of their business, he stubbornly defies his customers' conception of Italian food. He simply cannot stand it when, a customer wants her risotto, painstakingly prepared seafood, with spaghetti and meatballs, and he calls her a `Philistine'.
While the brothers are battling for survival, Pascal, another Italian immigrant one generation older, runs a busy restaurant that fulfills the American conception of Italian food. Pascal is the kind of immigrant who has a clear mission statement. He is here to do business.
Secondo, the younger brother, who is in charge of management and accounting tries to convince his brother to give in and accept the business realities. He is in favor of changes to save the `Paradise'.
Primo the gifted chef, Secondo the manager who wants to run his business with the Rules of the Game, and finally Christian that mysteriously and quietly is there for the brothers in times of need, all are three aspects of the same person. A person lost and exhausted in the `Paradise'. Torn apart between Pascal who runs an enormously successful Italian restaurant across the street and Alberto the isolated barber who preserved his old social values.
The Movie begins with a scene that shows Christian in deep thought looking at the sea. We will see him often around the brothers throughout the movie. He hardly says anything. However, his presence has a mysterious significance yet unrevealed. Perhaps, an aspect of the immigrants' character that is more fundamental than the ones affected by cultural differences.
Primo represents that side of the immigrant that's terrified by the might of the new culture and the impending changes that eventually unravel. He is reserved, strongly opinionated and scared that he may lose it all in this journey and end up `eaten up' by the new culture.
Secondo shows us the willingness of the immigrant for discovery, understanding and adaptation to the new social values. He looks up to Pascal for advice and, as Gabriella (Pascal's mistress) puts it, sees him as a `lighthouse' in a raging sea.
The night of the feast is an important milestone in this evolutionary process. It is an opportunity for Primo to show us what he possesses and how precious those possessions are. At the same time, it's a moment to face the reality that `Paradise' is in trouble and without a compromise it won't make it.
The film ends with Secondo, Christian and Primo eating three scrambled eggs the morning after the big night. Scrambled eggs and bread, a basic food in both cultures, implying a retreat to a common ground, for further evaluation and perhaps some adjustments. The movie, quite appropriately, doesn't reveal the direction that our immigrants will take. However, it beautifully displays the quiet coexistence of three personalities in a more persuasive journey!
I wonder if `the Big Night' is an adaptation of Freudian Psychoanalysis. If so could you identify `Id', ` Ego' and `superego'?
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