Written By: Lucas Nochez
Trigger Warning: At one point, Daniel butchers a pig. The scene is absolutely necessary to the story, but it might prove a little too graphic for casual viewers.
In the culinary world, the expression “nose to tail” is a philosophy of cooking that meticulously uses every possible part of an animal, minimizing potential waste of the carcass. When it comes to eating, “nose to tail” is used to describe consumers who scoff every part of a dish so nothing is wasted. When it comes to Jesse Zigelstein’s main character Daniel in his feature film debut Nose To Tail, its pretty safe to say that, Daniel (Aaron Abrams) leaves no one person unscathed after devouring each in every scene and each and every one person’s ego, including his own, in Zigelstein’s sizzling debut.
The truth of the matter is, Jesse Zigelstein’s film debut is easily more than a commonly used culinary idiom. The title of the film can easily be seen as a foreshadowing for the representation of our main…dare I say protagonist? Nose To Tail takes place over the course of one day, following the challenging and misshaped filled rollercoaster ride daily routine of once famed super chef Daniel. Daniel is the head chef of his uncompromising and meticulously run restaurant. Over the past ten years, Daniel has gone from local trendsetter, to out of touch with the current times. Yet, as much as people around him tell him that he is done, or that he has had a good run, Daniel refuses to accept the fact that food trucks and online bloggers dictate his own future; for he is only able to do that, giving Daniel a classic tragic hero type narrative arc. Poetic yet radically ironic, Daniel thinks redemption is in order for him and fading culinary sanctuary. Sadly, he realizes very quickly how one day, things can spiral out of control and end up completely fried.
Jesse Zigelstein writes and directs Nose To Tail, and while films today are flooding cineplexes everywhere with strong themes of female empowerment and cooking up extreme depictions of cinematic toxic masculinity, Daniel’s constant displays of feisty, fiery and chronic male abuse does not feel outdated or irrelevant. On the contrary, Daniel’s pompous, egotistical and majestically male abuse further highlights the many lows and obstacles Daniel must face, just to get through an evening that will dictate the future of his beloved establishment as well as gives an added spice, flavour or dare I say, whips up some interesting counter-punch to the larger conversation doused with films today.
While the themes and undertone of the films plays devil’s advocate to most films today, Nose To Tail marvels at its own reflection by being a structured and old-school depicted character study through and through. Thankfully, thanks to Zigelstein’s powerful script, the magnanimous colours of Daniel’s character couldn’t work any better, without the strength of its lead, Aaron Abrams. Abrams, who’s familiar face we’re sure you’ve seen before, whether it be in blockbusters like Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Cinderella Man, or the popular Hannibal television series, Abrams has established himself a certain reputation that I’m sure he would smile about if you insinuated it to him. Which is why the character of Daniel is so perfect for Abram’s growing filmography; because while Daniel spends the majority of the film begging and pleading people for a break for his many mistakes and uncontrolled rants filled with poignant insults, including references of Adolf Hitler, this different breed of asshole is due for his fair charge of growth and maturity, right?
And so, with each cringe-worthy minute of Daniel’s amassed lies, rebel-like mentality and personality, throughout the film, it becomes clear that Abrams is one of the only actors who can inherit the spirit of Daniel. Whether it be an old school rebel playing by his own rules who is out of touch with the times, or an uncompromising contrarian who despises the word “buzz” and believes in the reaffirmation of good cuisine and the stand alone integrity of good ingredients and the passion of culinary creativeness, Daniel loses his touch and seems to be maturing into something quite indeed; a has-been. Despite his best efforts, Daniel’s obvious passion to the point of destruction never becomes his downfall or demise; Daniel begins spiralling downwards not because of his lack of professionalism, or his constant obsession with the attainment of pure cuisine, Daniel gets hacked and chopped up for the simple facts that he is no longer a financially viable option. Daniel’s numbers don’t add up, he is no longer a sound investment and he is no longer a part of the larger conversation. Nose To Tail then becomes a detailed instance of episodic and chapters filling a narrative structure showcasing one man’s lack of cohesiveness and digression to the proverbial hole accounting to the sum of its total parts.
Abrams embodies Daniel, from each and every argument, mocking instance, insult, or professional or unprofessional interaction with everyone in the film. Daniel’s relationships throughout the film, from the moment he wakes up on top of his desk in the basement of the restaurant, with a bottle of whiskey lingering in the background, to his final scene where the day and the events of the day has left him bruised, bloodied and beaten, the question remains if Daniel is a cynical opportunist, or a pandering, self-destructive parasite incapable of listening to anyone else but himself?
Nose To Tail may not be the hottest thing in town right now, especially given the social climate of the commentary of films today, nor would its bourbon-bodied jazz soundtrack by the immensely talented Ben Fox be a go-to for typical soundtrack of the year, and Nose To Tail may take a beating for its stance to reaffirm the main character, but at least it stays true to give audiences an entertaining receipt for a simmering asshole chef we have all know and love…to hate.
Night Film Reviews: 7.5 Out of 10!
What did you think of Nose To Tail? Out of touch drama or perfectly placed restaurant drama? What did you think of Aaron Abrams performance? Leave your leftover thoughts below!