The Perfect Dinner [La cena perfetta] — St. Ali Italian Film Festival 2022

Review by John P. Harvey.

Sent north from Naples to manage a money laundry with a restaurant as a front, Carmine (Salvatore Esposito) finds a fast-food café that outrages his perceptions of what food should be.  When a visiting ambitious chef, Consuelo (Greta Scarano), criticises the fare he has served her, he can only agree with her.  He has clear memories of his grandmother’s superb cooking and her methods.  Taking a big chance on recouping the money within a week or two, Carmine spends a great deal of money to turn the laundry into a real restaurant.

Carmine’s heart lies in cookery, and it urges him to make a success of the restaurant.  The problem is that it is not his money he has used to refurbish it; that belongs to his gangster boss, Don Pasquale (Gianfranco Gallo), already a hairsbreadth away from executing him for already bringing him too much trouble.  Carmine has already let an old friend disappear with the boss’s money in order to evade execution for the theft; now, unless he can make the restaurant spectacularly successful, he risks the same sentence.  But his new chef’s technically brilliant cookery lacks heart.

What’s a man supposed to do?

A lightheartedly dramatic epicurean romantic crime comedy with taste, The Perfect Dinner makes perfect introductions between business and business, Italian style, and the pitfalls of mixing it with pleasure.  Its tense climactic scene, managing to leave a perfect meal unspoilt by the imminent threat of gangland execution, epitomises the best and worst of Italian culture at one table.  And the kitchen’s products look pretty good; you may like to have food handy!

Screening at Palace cinemas.

Liked it? Take a second to support John P. Harvey on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Leave a Reply