“The Spitfire Grill,” a Castle Rock pickup from Columbia Pictures that is being released today by Sony Pictures Entertainment, was reviewed by Daily Variety from the Sundance Film Festival on Feb. 4, 1996, under its original title, “Care of the Spitfire Grill.”
“Comparing the film to ‘Fried Green Tomatoes’ and ‘Gas, Food, Lodging’ in its bittersweet attitude toward the values of a close-knit community,” Leonard Klady wrote, “The tale focuses on Percy Talbott (Alison Elliott), recently released from jail and, thanks to a progressive warden, relocated to the quiet village of Gildead, Maine.
Percy finds work as a waitress and a room above the Spitfire Grill, run by the slightly cranky Hannah Ferguson (Ellen Burstyn). But the folks are touchy about strangers, and Percy’s open declaration of her last job at the state institution doesn’t assuage that wariness.
“Writer-director Lee David Zlotoff has devised a complex tale that tends to bog down as he attempts to weave together its many plot strands.
“The filmmakers attempt to interlace Percy’s dark past, Hannah’s grief for a son who was killed in Vietnam, and a mysterious, unseen woodsman.
“While the story tends to falter, the performers never waver in the conviction of their characterizations,” Klady wrote. Most of all, he opined, “it’s Elliott who anchors the piece. In a daunting role layered with natural smarts, youthful energy and painful regret, she weathers the mood shifts with aplomb and grace.”