Monday, July 27, 2020

Yet another asshole chef on view in Jesse Zigelstein's Canadian meller, NOSE TO TAIL

For proof of the little phrase Nothing lasts, you needn't turn to the likes of Shelley's Ozymandias. Just consider the restaurant industry in most western culture, where even the best examples have but a limited life span. The 2018 Canadian melodrama NOSE TO TAIL (just arriving on digital streaming in North America), rather than describing your dog's special ability, instead I believe refers to the philosophy of using every part of the animal in food preparation, letting nothing go to waste.
TrustMovies is not certain why the film's writer and director Jesse Zigelstein (shown left), whose first full-length film this is, decided on that as his title -- unless he means it ironically -- since our restaurant's chef and leading character in the film, Daniel (played exceedingly well by Aaron Abrams, above and below), seems bent on wasting if not downright destroying everything and everyone around him.

While giving one's lead character a problem or two to surmount is how drama takes shape, you may question just why Mr. Zigelstein had to load them on to this extent. Daniel has money problems, staffing problems, health problems and love/relationship problems. So by the time his family (ex-wife and child) problems surface, you're ready to cry uncle times ten.

Plus, Daniel handles each one of his problems in the worst possible way, over and over again. Which brings up some simple questions of logic and credibility: Given who this guy is, how could he ever possibly have succeeded (or even imagined success)? Worse, how can literally everyone around him not know by now that his restaurant is failing, bigtime?

Mr. Abrams' committed, stops-out performance does help matters considerably. Every performance is first-rate here -- that's Lara Jean Chorostecki, as Daniel's employee/lover, above, and Ennis Esmer as his maybe business partner, below -- so Zigelstein clearly knows how to get the best from his actors. But by piling on misery to the max the filmmaker very nearly approaches black comedy, if not outright camp. By the time we meet Dan's family, "Oh, come on now!" is likely to be your initial response.

All we are ever given as the reason for our chef's quest is, as the film's IMDB description explains, "to serve excellent food without compromising."  From what we see (not that much), the meals look OK (their presentation, at least), and folk describe them as tasting very, very good. Yet given Daniel's terrible predicament and asshole attitude, every meal served here becomes at best a kind of pyrrhic victory. Perhaps that is the filmmaker's point. Does no compromise insure no success?

From 1091 and running a relatively quick 82 minutes, Nose to Tail hits digital streaming and VOD tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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