REVIEW: The Dinner

3 05 2017

I’ve racked my brain for days. Still, I cannot find a scenario in which the same person who masterfully threaded the seven-character Bob Dylan opus “I’m Not There” could also write something as clunky as “The Dinner.” Pardon this casual dismissal, but just … woooof.

Oren Moverman’s film is a cheap knockoff of “Carnage” – both Yasmina Reza’s play and Roman Polanski’s cinematic adaptation – as it gathers wealthy individuals to gnaw at each other over the sins of their children. That film wasn’t even anything to write home about, but it at least found a claustrophobic consistency and stuck to it. Moverman hacks away at any building tension between the two couples by frequently cutting away with flashbacks and expository scenes.

Even when Moverman does center the action on the open loathing between a successful politician (Richard Gere) and his cynical brother (Steve Coogan), “The Dinner” falls flat. They don’t sound like people. They talk like characters. Every bloviating pontification reeks of unrealistic grandiloquence. I don’t buy that this manner of speaking is some kind of class marker, either. Moverman just cannot find the humanity in the people he puts on screen.

When evaluating films, director David Fincher says he operates on the following logic: “First I’m looking for the technical. Then the believable. Then the connection.” Moverman’s film never makes it past the first criterion. C-

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5 responses

8 05 2017
ChadEHarris

Haha. While I did like the monologue before the class comes in and how it tells us that mental health is a factor in more stories (including our own) than we want to admit, it took me forever to figure out who Chloë Sevigny was and whose kids did what. But then again I don’t treat movies as puzzles to figure out. I wait for them to unfold with minimal “predictions” on my part. But in those areas I was genuinely confused for a bit. You didn’t get claustrophobic from the restaurant, even with the cutting away? It was like hell in there, especially when they went to that “waiting room” type area after dinner. That assistant was always lurking.

8 05 2017
Marshall Shaffer

Claustrophobic, yes, but to what end? I didn’t understand why the constant need to break whatever meager tension he built.

8 05 2017
ChadEHarris

Exactly.

8 05 2017
ChadEHarris

It seems like an attempt to mix two strategies, but too much was lost in that.

12 05 2017
screenzealots

I think I may have been the only person in the world who kinda liked “The Dinner.” Great review, by the way.

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