There are moments in life where I want to see a movie, but I’m very lukewarm about all of the titles out. During these moments, I consult a random group of friends to decide for me, and after giving them all four different films I was considering, one of them finally answered, “Go see The Dinner, because I’m hungry.”
So I went off to go see The Dinner.
Now I know close to no one knows about this movie, so I’ll give a synopsis in twenty words or less:
It’s about two sets of spouses going to dinner at a fancy restaurant for reasons the movie tells us later.
Of these four characters, not all of them are fleshed out immediately, but Steve Coogan is characterized from the start. Coogan’s performance as a man, whose mind is all but deteriorated due to mental illness, is extremely intriguing and gripping.
Laura Linney, Richard Gere, and Rebecca Hall all eventually get fleshed out, and all of their performances are completely fantastic and raw. Coogan is obviously the best of these performances because he was the most fascinating and intriguing, but everyone else eventually won me over.
The film is extremely dialogue-heavy throughout its entirety. There isn’t much of what you would call “action”, but the few moments that do have action are thrilling and sometimes disturbing.
The cinematographic elements of the movie are all fine. There were quite a few scenes that made me feel extremely uncomfortable because of the way they were shot. The soundtrack was acceptable if not a bit forgettable.
It takes awhile, but this movie has so much to say about family, how one’s past can utterly destroy you, and how good people can turn into dehumanizing monsters when it means protecting loved ones.
With that said, the movie does take a long time to make its points. Much of this is due to Coogan’s character constantly distracting everybody, and by a superfluous amount of backstory being developed in between the dinner scenes.
The film can be extremely confusing at times. Most of this has to do with how much Coogan rattles on and on and on, but the other reason is because the story withholds information from you constantly until it decides it’s finally important enough to be revealed. I feel like this movie could potentially have different flavors upon a second viewing.
There’s a few scenes in the first half of the film that I’m still trying to figure out what was the point of them. If I was a nice person, I would call these specific scenes “artsy”, but because I’m not a nice person, I’m going to call them “pretentious”.
The ending caught me so off guard that I had trouble getting out of my seat because I did not fully grasp what I was supposed to take away from it. It shook me so much that I was constantly thinking about it the entire ride home.
Because it takes so long to get started, and because it can be somewhat confusing and drawn out, I can’t say that I would recommend The Dinner to everyone, but if you have enough patience for a film to finally get to where it needs to be, and if you have a taste for movies that rely solely on character development and dialogue, then I would definitely recommend giving this film a try. If it was consistently well done for the entire movie, and not just the second half, I’d be compelled to give it a higher grade. This is the first movie that I’ve seen this year where I really feel like I should watch it a second time. For now though, I am very comfortable with the grade it’ll receive tonight.