Canadian Film Fest Review: Nose to Tail

Nose to Tail

8 out of 10

Aaron Abrams delivers a towering and commanding lead performance in writer-director Jesse Zigelstein’s debut feature, Nose to Tail (screening at the 2019 Canadian Film Fest), the story of an egotistical and stressed out business owner who’s about to reach his wit’s end.

Dan (Abrams) runs a once well regarded high end restaurant that’s fallen on hard times financially. His suppliers are starting to cut him off. His landlord (Robert B. Kennedy) is on the verge of kicking him out. His chef de cuisine (Brandon McKnight) has one foot out the door. His flirtations with his front of house manager (Lara Jean Chorostecki) both help and complicate matters. Nose to Tail unfolds across what might be Dan’s final make-or-break day. Anything that could go wrong probably will, and Dan’s ego and pursuit of absolute culinary perfection when he can’t afford it makes him his own worst enemy.

Nose to Tail isn’t the first drama to be made about a struggling and entitled chef, but it’s certainly one of the most immediate, visceral, and purposefully uncomfortable. Zigelstein moves everything along at a lightning fast pace, packing as much story as he can into 80 minutes and eliminating as much fat as possible without sacrificing his deftly realized character study. It appropriately feels like being stuck in a pressure cooker environment with a realistically unlikable and flawed “protagonist” barking orders.

Between this and last year’s riotously funny, feel-bad comedy The Go-Getters, Abrams is making a strong case for being one of the finest character actors and leading men in Canada today. He excels here as a self-involved and self-loathing smartass who once commanded respect and acclaim but is now only a genius in his own mind. Watching Dan rapidly unravel in mid-breakdown is an interesting and refreshing approach to such a story, and while it’s well handled by Zigelstein and the supporting cast, it’s Abrams’ volatile performance that’s bringing Nose to Tail to a higher level of excellence.

Nose to Tail screens at the Canadian Film Fest on Wednesday, March 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm at Scotiabank Theatre.

Check out the trailer for Nose to Tail:

Andrew Parker
Andrew Parker fell in love with film growing up across the street from a movie theatre. He began writing professionally about film at the age of fourteen, and has been following his passions ever since. His writing has been showcased at various online outlets, as well as in The Globe and Mail, BeatRoute, and NOW Magazine. If he's not watching something or reading something, he's probably sleeping.