"Restaurant" takes a rare look behind the scenes in a busy Hoboken eatery and pushes its characters across the racial divide.
By JOSHUA TANZER
"Restaurant" opens with Chris (Adrien Brody) making an idiot of himself on
the phone from his darkened Hoboken apartment in the middle of the night,
and the camera dollies from inside the apartment right out the window to a
shot of majestic Manhattan across the river. There are a million stories in
the big city, we understand from the start and this isn't one of
them. These are the people who live in the shadow of New York's fame and
The film revolves around a busy Hoboken restaurant (two doors away from Offoffoff.com's palatial offices!)
and the lives of the actors, singers, writers and working-class
twenty-somethings who keep it running. At the center of the ensemble is the
young playwright-bartender Chris (played by Brody before he became well
known for "The Thin Red Line" and "Summer of Sam"), who is linked in various
ways to each of the other major characters.
|Directed by: Eric Bross.|
Written by: Tom Cudworth.
Cast: Adrien Brody, Elise Neal, David Moscow, Simon Baker, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Lauryn Hill.
Cinematography: Horacio Marqu’nez.
Related links: Official site
His buddy Reggae (David Moscow) is a cook who spends his free time getting
high and visiting prostitutes to avoid the complications of a girlfriend.
Kenny (Simon Baker) is a pretty-boy actor-waiter who irritates Chris
all the moreso after he lands the lead in Chris' new semi-autobiographical
play. His co-worker Steven (the "Cosby" show's Malcolm-Jamal Warner) is a
diligent waiter who aspires to be a bartender but faces an unstated racial barrier. And he takes a special interest in the lovely Jeanine (Elise Neal),
a black waitress-singer who worries that Chris is after her only because she
reminds him of his previous girlfriend (played by the uncredited Lauryn
Of these plot elements, the only one that clunks is the romance, which
inexplicably finds our reasonably modern protagonists working through some
implausibly Victorian issues. All of the plot threads, though, seem secondary to the overall exploration of two wider themes, which is where the film really succeeds: black-white relationships and restaurant culture.|
The restaurant's racial (and sexual) dividing line is quickly evident:
black men in the kitchen, white women in the dining area and a white man
behind the bar. But the film concerns itself particularly with what happens
when people start crossing those lines a pretty black woman in the
dining area, an ambitious black man trying to get behind the bar, a white
cook who's most comfortable with the black guys in the kitchen. Among
themselves, the workers seem mostly friendly without regard to race
sign of a generational evolution, perhaps but within the workplace
they largely adapt to the divide.
There have been several indie films in the last few years about actors
working in restaurants but they've focused on the characters as
actors more than as restaurant workers. This film moves in the opposite
direction, looking from the restaurant outward, showing the personal
dynamics and the mad hustle that go on behind the closed doors of the
kitchen and the prim outfit of the server. Diners, you've been
|JANUARY 30, 2000|
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