“THE DINNER” – 4 out of 10
In a word: Annoying
Our theater was about half full, perhaps 50-plus people. About 30 minutes into the film, I noticed the first couple get up and leave. Well, perhaps someone wasn’t feeling well. The notion of leaving occurred to us as well but we’d stay a while to see where it goes. Then, about one hour – the halfway mark – another couple left, followed by another two a few minutes later. By the time it hit the 1:20 mark, we’d had it. So, that’s 8 walk-outs, and I have no idea how many followed us.
We had read the 3 out of 4-star rating by AP writer, Lindsey Bahr, who had glowing comments to offer, and a bit of criticism. Advice: Don’t pay any attention to Ms. Bahr’s ratings of movies. She should find another genre to write within.
The problem with the movie wasn’t the acting, the players performed their roles well. The problem was with the direction by Oren Moverman, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation from a novel by Herman Koch. The movie constantly splinters off into flashbacks, short-range and long-range, some of which seem unrelated to the basic plot, making it hard for the audience to keep track.
Moverman starts the film with two full minutes of darkness filled with booming, ear-splitting rap crap, causing my wife and me to cover our ears. Had it gone on any longer, we’d have left right then. Whatever the purpose, it added nothing to the story.
The write-ups refer to this being a conflict between two married couples, one of whom is a politician running for governor (Richard Gere) and his wife. The others include Gere’s wacky brother (play by Steve Coogan) and wife (Laura Linney). The setting is an opulent restaurant serving tongue-twisters as appetizers, and a verbose maître’d followed by a gaggle of stiff waiters showing off their “class.”
The real focus of the story is the Steve Coogan character, an out of work, casutic school teacher with mental problems. He sees wealth as the root of all world problems and rambles about American history and world atrocities, often in flashback embarking on long vulgar speeches to teenage kids in class, making one wonder how it had anything to do with the story. Coogan is the focus of the movie, because he’s either crazy or afflicted with Tourette’s or some other syndrome.
The basic plot is supposed to be about Coogan’s character who inadvertently learned that his son had committed a serious crime with his buddies. Gere’s ego-maniacal character assembled the dinner to troubleshoot and suppress the incident from publicity. Why he would root this in a highly public arena instead of a private setting is baffling.
The movie could have been limited to a one-hour short-story film, without all the fluff and idiocy that seemed as though Oren Moverman was trying to show-off his directorial prowess…needlessly. It could be that the last 40 minutes of the movie ultimately answered a lot of questions about plot and character, but we’ll never know. Neither, will we care.
Because acting was good, I’ll give the move a 4. Otherwise, it would be less.