Dinner Rush

Dinner Rush


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Working in a busy New York kitchen is a microcosm of life. The pain, the anguish, the stress, the passion, the fear, the ego, the confrontation, the intensity and the talent is here. Half the time you hate it, half the time you love it. Customers are demanding and difficult. Waitresses have other lives and resent being treated like menus with tits. The chefs work at speeds that defy gravity. Presentation is everything.

Dinner Rush is a supreme example of ensemble playing, stories touched and rushed through, interrelated and inconclusive, fired by the adrenaline of feeding 200 people a night and feeding them well. The script (Rick Shaughnessy, Brian S Kalata) is as sharp as ice. And when the hoods from Queens come down to Tribeca and make threats, that is not the way to behave.

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The Italian restaurant has been in the same family since faded black-and-white photography. At the beginning of the film, Louis's partner is murdered for something he had nothing to do with. Before that, Louis (Danny Aiello), the owner, was talking of retirement. He doesn't like the changes. His son, Udo (Edoardo Ballerini), has become a fashionable chef, who rules the kitchen like a tyrant. He wants a share in the business. He wants to take over.

Louis dislikes the arty nouveau cuisine and defies Udo. His younger son, Duncan (Kirk Acevedo), works in the kitchen as a sous-chef. As well as carrying on with elegant Nicole (Vivian Wu), the on-floor manager, he is addicted to gambling. Already thousands of dollars in debt to bookmakers, he goes against his father's wishes and doubles up on a baseball game at The Garden.

Bob Giraldi directs with the confidence of a man who has survived conditions not dissimilar to those endured by Udo's crew. Duncan's folly, Udo's ambition, Louis's contingency plans and the ingredients of the chocolate pudding make a difference to the outcome of the story. The hoods are seated at a table on the balcony, a couple of steps up from the main floor. They are well fed and carefully watched. For all his charm, Louis leaves nothing to chance.

The performances are excellent, with Aiello leading from the front. Such style! Such exquisite taste!

The only flaw, it seems, is the title.

Reviewed on: 29 Mar 2002
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Entertaining ensemble movie, set in a New York restaurant.
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Director: Bob Giraldi

Writer: Rick Shaughnessy, Brian S Kalata

Starring: Danny Aiello, Edoardo Ballerini, Vivian Wu, Mike McGlone, Kirk Acevedo, Sandra Bernhard, Summer Phoenix, Polly Draper

Year: 2000

Runtime: 98 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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