Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Campbell Scott
|Produced by||David Kirkpatrick
|Written by||Joseph Tropiano
|Music by||Gary DeMichele
|Edited by||Suzy Elmiger|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company|
Produced by David Kirkpatrick and Jonathan Filley for the Samuel Goldwyn Company, the film met with critical acclaim both in the United States and internationally. It was nominated for the "Grand Jury Prize" at the Sundance Film Festival and the "Grand Special Prize" at the Deauville Film Festival.
Scott and Tucci won the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best New Director. Tucci and Joseph Tropiano won the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay. Tucci heads the cast, with Tony Shalhoub, Minnie Driver and Isabella Rossellini.
On the New Jersey Shore in the 1950s, two Italian immigrant brothers from Abruzzo own and operate a restaurant called "Paradise." One brother, Primo (Tony Shalhoub), is a brilliant, perfectionist chef who chafes under their few customers' expectations of "Americanized" Italian food. Their uncle's offer for them to return to Rome to help with his restaurant is growing in appeal to Primo. The younger brother, Secondo (Tucci), is the restaurant manager, a man enamored of the possibilities presented by their new endeavor and life in America. Despite Secondo's efforts and Primo's magnificent food, their restaurant is failing.
Secondo's struggles as a businessman renders him unable to commit to his girlfriend Phyllis (Minnie Driver), and he has recently been sleeping with Gabriella (Isabella Rossellini), the wife of a competitor. Her husband's (Ian Holm) eponymous restaurant, "Pascal's", has succeeded despite (or perhaps due to) the mediocre, uninspired food served there. Desperate to keep Paradise afloat, Secondo asks Pascal for a loan. Pascal demurs, repeating a past offer for the brothers to work for him. This Secondo refuses to do; he and his brother want their own restaurant. In a seemingly generous gesture, Pascal insists that he will persuade popular Italian-American singer Louis Prima to dine at Paradise when in town, assuming the celebrity jazz singer's patronage will revitalize the brothers' business. Primo and Secondo plunge themselves into preparation for this "big night", spending their entire savings on food and inviting people (including a newspaper reporter) to join them in a magnificent feast centered around a timpano (a form of timballo, a complicated baked pasta dish). Primo pours his heart into every dish, lavishing care and great expertise on the cooking.
As they wait for Prima and his entourage to arrive, the diners indulge in the exquisite food and partake in a fabulous celebration. Hours pass, however, and it becomes apparent that the famous singer is not coming. Phyllis catches Secondo and Gabriella kissing and runs off to the beach. At Gabriella's insistence, Pascal admits that he never called Louis Prima, thus ending the party.
Secondo follows Phyllis to the beach where they have a final quarrel. Primo and Secondo have a fiery, heart-wrenching argument, chafing at their mutual differences. In the wee hours of the morning, Pascal admits to Secondo that he set the brothers up for failure; not as revenge for Secondo's affair with Gabriella but because the brothers would have no choice but to return to Italy or work for Pascal. Secondo denies him, saying they will never work for him.
As dawn breaks, Secondo silently cooks an omelette. When done, he divides it among three plates, giving one to Cristiano (Marc Anthony), their waiter, and eating one himself. Primo hesitantly enters, and Secondo hands him the last plate. They eat without speaking, and lay their arms across one another's shoulders.
- Minnie Driver... Phyllis
- Ian Holm... Pascal
- Isabella Rossellini... Gabriella
- Tony Shalhoub... Primo
- Stanley Tucci... Secondo
- Marc Anthony... Cristiano
- Caroline Aaron... Woman in Restaurant
- Allison Janney... Ann
- Campbell Scott... Bob
- Susan Floyd... Joan
- Pasquale Cajano... Alberto N. Pisani
- Robert W. Castle... Father O'Brien
- Andre Belgrader... Stash
- Gene Canfield... Charlie
- Liev Schreiber... Leo
- Peter McRobbie... Loan Officer
- Christine Tucci... Woman Singer
The exterior shots of the "Paradise" restaurant were filmed in the town of Keyport, New Jersey.
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