THE DINNER | REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Why oh why did the Americans feel the need to make the third movie of ’s famed novel THE DINNER? He only released the book in 2009 and we are up to the third screen adaptation. First the Dutch made a version in 2013 that was marvellous – definitely the best of the bunch. In 2014 the Italians made a version and now 2017 the U.S.A has come to the party. The book is superb and I highly recommend the read, or any of Koch’s books for that matter. 

To win a prize pack from Icon films consisting of 6x DVDs and a double pass to see THE DINNER check out John’s review below. Sadly John was not a fan of this version that releases from Icon Film Distribution in Australia on September 7th. It runs for exactly two hours and will be rated M. Enjoy John’s thoughts……all the best…..Salty.

BY

THE DINNER SYNOPSIS:

THE DINNER is a drama about two couples, ambitious politician Stan (), his dedicated and supportive trophy wife Katelyn (), Stan’s brother, high school history teacher Paul (), and Paul’s wife Claire (), sharing a meal together at a very fancy restaurant. During the evening, Stan repeatedly attempts to start a discussion with the others about their teenage children, whom it appears have committed some terrible act. Stan’s efforts are continually interrupted however, by the restaurant staff and patrons, the demands of family or political life, the idiosyncrasies of each individual, and the ever increasing antagonism between the brothers. As the night goes on and more is revealed, it becomes clear that this outwardly happy and successful family harbour much darker issues than meets the eye.

 

The Dinner Lead Cast image

 

CAST:

The acting in this film is very good. Gere has a quality that cannot be denied, but the standout for me has to Coogan. The character of Paul suffers from some undefined mental illness, and Coogan plays the part brilliantly. Paul is an annoying, argumentative, opinionated, frustrating, bitter, a pain in the arse. So much so that every time he opened his mouth to say anything I just wanted to reach through the screen and punch him in the face. I hated Paul and the way he put everyone else around him offside. To make me feel so strongly about a character is testament to Coogan’s incredible performance. The supporting cast are equally as solid in their performances, not just the wives, but also the couples’ children and surrounding restaurant staff.

PRODUCTION:

The direction, score and cinematography of the film are also quite accomplished. Different scenes and sections of the restaurant have specific hues to their respective colour palettes. Likewise, flashback scenes take on their own particular spectrum and quality, giving audience members a clear understanding of where a certain moment takes place in the overall story. The music is also well chosen to enhance the scene. From background restaurant tones, to darker more foreboding sounds during violent flashbacks, THE DINNER’s score goes a long way to enhance the separate aspects of the film.

 

The Dinner Charlie Plummer image

 

A TALE OF TWO CITIES (OR FILMS):

22.5 seconds. Where THE DINNER catastrophically falls apart however is in the composition of its plot. Based on Dutchman Herman Koch’s book of the same name, Moverman attempts to cram an incredibly involved 320 page story into a 120 minute film, leaving himself no more than 22.5 seconds to portray on screen each of the novel’s pages, a challenge that he completely fails to accomplish.

There is just far too much going on in this movie. From the outset, this film portends to be about a familial dinner to discuss the actions of awful sons, but well before even the aperitif is served, THE DINNER loses its way in attempting to justify its own intensity.

There is a tremendous emphasis on opposites. Brothers Stan and Paul could not be more different; Stan with his political success and ambitions, and Paul with his chaotic outbursts and mental illness. There is also stark contrast between the over the top opulence of the restaurant and meal the couples find themselves partaking, and the destitution involved in the events surrounding their children. Also, the wives’ fierce defence of their families clash jarringly with their utter disregard for the victims of their children’s crimes.

Further to all of this lies Paul’s role as a quasi-narrator. His underlying mental illness make his retelling of events and introduction of characters very unreliable and unclear. Paul also has a great fascination with the Battle of Gettysburg, an aspect of his character that THE DINNER spends an inordinate amount of time exploring, though it bears no impact whatsoever on the implied point of the film: discussing the children’s actions. In fact, the whole Gettysburg subplot detracts and confuses so heavily, that it actually makes THE DINNER seem like two unrelated movies merged into one.

 

The Dinner Steve Coogan and Richard Gere image
Steve Coogan and Richard Gere

 

CONCLUSION

Ultimately, THE DINNER is a film that clouds the narrative structure, and certainly not in a manner that enhances or entices. The introduction is murky and haphazard thanks to Paul’s rambling narration. The complication is constantly teased out over the dinner courses, but entirely obscured by the unceasing and disassociated flashbacks and backstory reveals. The resolution is nothing more than a fundamentally unresolved argument that indeed offers no resolution at all, while the abrupt cut to black conclusion leaves absolutely nothing answered, and is done with such brutality that the producers of THE SOPRANOS would be moved to tears.

See this movie only if you are a diehard Gere or Coogan fan. Their performances help prop up this film, though the sheer weight of THE DINNER’s storyline failures can only be carried so far.

 

 

HOW TO  THE DINNER PRIZE PACK:

With special thanks to ICON Films to win THE DINNER PRIZE PACK consisting of 1x double pass to see the movie plus the following movies on DVD (BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, THE TREE OF LIFE, THE CONFIRMATION, INFINITELY POLAR BEAR, THE BEAVER and RABBIT PROOF FENCE) you need to either like and share/ retweet this post on Facebook/Twitter/ Google+/ Pinterest/ LinkedIn/ Flipboard or Instagram (all the links to follow us are on the top right of homepage). Further to this you then need to leave a comment below stating the answer/s to the following question/s:

What is your favourite food based movie? And why!!

I MUST STRESS ORIGINALITY WILL WIN THE PRIZES – YOU NEED TO STAND OUT – IMPRESS THE JUDGE.

If you do not have social media then you can still enter, leave your entry below in the comments and then email me at jking@saltypopcorn.com.au telling me you don’t have social media (you still need to enter on the website).

This is a game of skill and selected purely on the thoughts of the judges. 

The prize will be drawn on or after 1st September. Good luck! Oh, and minor housekeeping – huge apologies for overseas readers, this  is only available to Australian residents.

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

A lifelong lover of the silver screen, Kernel John strives to engage and entertain his audience through the shameless use of humour in his reviews, even when it probably isn’t warranted. When not musing for Salty, you can often find John bouncing between his extreme states of either puppy watching down by the beach, or reflecting on the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.