My favorite scene in the new HBO Documentary: Le Cirque: A Table In Heaven takes place in, of all places, a McDonald’s. Right there in the middle of a Mickey D’s you find the Maccioni family, the closest thing to restaurant royalty in America, munching on Big Mac’s as they ponder and chew on the future of their family business.
To hear ELV read this script in the melodic tonal tenor for which he is known, click here. Otherwise, continue reading after the jump.
My second favorite scene has paterfamilias Sirio Maccioni (a worrywort to end all worryworts) pigeonholing Henry Kissinger (in a polite way, of course) as he pumps him for real estate advice.
These two scenes highlight all that is great, humble, and oh-so-human about this family as it tracks their attempts to continue the Le Cirque legacy even as Sirio goes not-so-gently into his twilight years.
That legacy was given a Las Vegas spin (and a financial shot in the arm) ten years ago, when we got our very own Le Cirque – a place that continues to be one of our town’s top tables. Back in ’04 though, the second incarnation of this legendary restaurant was losing its lease, so the entire New York operation had to be moved – necessitating the type of angst-ridden retooling (and rethinking) that anyone who’s ever been in a family business can identify with.
The Maccioni’s, if you didn’t know, have three sons – giving the whole melodrama a certain, King Lear-like complexity, that’s not without its comic overtones. The sons don’t maneuver for control of the empire as much as they all take turns battling the patriarch. And even in his seventies, Sirio is a formidable opponent. As the soul of Le Cirque, he’s whip-smart, hard-headed, petulant, charming and infuriating to those around him….In fact he sorta reminded me of someone I used to know – which is one of the reasons my Dad would’ve loved the guy – even though my family never rose above the Greek diner level of restaurant success.
Andrew Rossi’s camera follows Sirio’s family from New York to Las Vegas to Italy and back, from menu planning sessions to opening night jitters – all with the highly polished gloss of Big Apple glamour as its backdrop. Le Cirque: A Table In Heaven gives you an insight into the real world of restaurants in a way that reality television never approaches. It’s also a primer on the pitfalls of passing on, and trying to continue the legacy of the last of the great ones.
As Rossi said in an interview: “Today’s restaurants feel disposable. You’re just one of a thousand customers, whereas Sirio Maccioni was both star and director of a nightly performance taking place in his restaurant.” Whether his son’s can sustain that glory remains to be seen, but after seeing this movie, you’ll be rooting for them to succeed.
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