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The Dinner Movie Review

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If you asked me a week ago what I knew about The Dinner, there’s a good chance I would have responded with absolutely nothing. So with that said, I’ll talk a little bit about my initial thoughts upon finding out that it’s a film being released this weekend. I love this cast. That was my first reaction. I’ve been enjoying Richard Gere’s movies for a long, long time, and to see him in a smaller film like this is kind of exciting. Let’s see if this crew came together for a movie worth checking out!

The Dinner is directed by Oren Moverman and stars Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, and Rebecca Hall. Stan, played by Gere, invites his brother Paul, played by Coogan, to dinner with their wives. They have always been at odds, but their sons are best friends. As best friends, they have committed a very serious crime which ends up being the tightrope walk of a conversation over a fine multi-course meal.

One thing I found extremely interesting about this film was the way that it was structured. This movie is based on a novel, and even though I try to do my homework, I didn’t get a chance to read the novel. It’s structured as a meal that you would find at one of the fanciest restaurants in town. While it maintains that structure, it also uses nonlinear storytelling to raise the stakes, sort of like how a meal gets bigger and grander as the next course comes out. I think this structure was used really effectively, and the way the story was told around this dinner, which just seemed to be a plot device to drive the characters and their motivations, was really interesting, and I completely bought into it. I think this story follows that old plot mountain you used to see with rising action, a climax, and falling action, but it illustrates that mountain through a fancy dinner. Next, I think that the performances are great, and the characters have a lot of depth. What I loved most is that you’re constantly learning about their moral standpoints, and the actors do such a great job of putting you inside their brains. I love how this film uses perspective to demonstrate how different life events can effect you as well as how values, differences, and family can alter your view on a certain subject matter. Once all of the opinions start to unfold right in front of you, some of them kind of make you uncomfortable, but they make you uncomfortable in a good way. They make you uncomfortable in the way that a strong opposing stance should make you feel. A strong opposing stance should make you deeply consider both sides along with the facts and the morality of a situation, and The Dinner made me do that.

Where I think this movie does fall short is in some of its symbolism as well as how easy it is for this movie to generate hate. At multiple points in the film, I thought that a couple of the characters were created out of pure spite. It’s like the writers sat down and tried to decide how to write the most hateful, evil beings they could possibly come up with, and they did it. Though I enjoyed trying to wrap my mind around their thoughts and viewpoints, I would never want to go to dinner with any of the characters in this movie. Despite the fact that I understood their choices, I didn’t have a character to cheer for or to back because they all seemed obsessed with their own ideals and themselves. Next, there are many scenes that feel as though they had no direction. Sometimes it felt like a scene should have been planned out and mapped out, but by the time the shoot came, there was still no plan, so an inconsistent and improvised style went into a couple of scenes that didn’t make sense in context, and in that I think that this film might have bitten off more than it could chew.

Overall, I have to praise the way I was able to climb right into the brains of these characters and understand their thoughts. I love humanity, and I love moral battles, so pieces of this movie are definitely up my alley. I also found the structure very interesting when it was able to remain constant. It derails here and there without rhyme or reason, but when it uses the dinner to outline the story, I think it succeeded. I did find a lot of the film unnecessarily unpleasant, and The Dinner can be a spiteful movie filled with self-obsessed, horrible people, but if you like to contemplate morals and see strong stances from two different sides and accept certain ideals over others, you might enjoy The Dinner. I’m going to give The Dinner a 5.5/10.

Will you be seeing The Dinner? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm