The Missing Ingredient does too much with too little

Story of how a restaurateur transformed his New York spot is too sparse for a full-length documentary

THE MISSING INGREDIENT (Michael Sparaga). 87 minutes. Opens Friday (July 15). See listing. Rating: NN

Not all documentaries about restaurants are created equal. 

In the first feature by Toronto filmmaker Michael Sparaga, Manhattan restaurateur Charles Devigne decides to revitalize his flagging midtown spot, Pescatore, by redecorating the place with the beloved zebra wallpaper from revered Italian eatery Gino. 

It’s a cute story, but it’s the sort of anecdote that could be told in a few minutes. At nearly an hour and a half, the film struggles to fill its time, spending far longer on the colourful history of Gino – recounted at length by customers and surviving owners – than it does on Devigne’s work at Pescatore.

It’s understandable that Sparaga would want to use so much of that material, but I found myself wondering why he didn’t just make his movie about Gino instead. | @normwilner

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