The Dinner (8/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 110 minutes
Not for children.
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), this is a
psychological thriller film about two couples with a lot of problems.
One of the problems is that Paul Lohman (Steve Coogan) is recovering
from a debilitating nervous breakdown and is still obviously troubled.
The other involves a huge problem with a horrible deed done by their
respective children. This has caused Stan Lohman (Richard Gere), Paul’s
brother and a Congressman running for Governor, to invite his brother
and wife, Claire (Laura Linney), to dinner with him and his wife,
Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) at a pretentiously posh restaurant. There, they
eventually come around to confronting the big problem, which isn’t as
easy as it sounds.
conversations is the ridiculous presentation of each course, explained
in ostentatiously excruciating detail by their head waiter, Dylan Heinz
(Michael Chernus, who gives a terrific performance). Says
writer/director Oren Moverman, “The food is ridiculous and that’s the
point. These people’s worlds are falling apart but they’re being
presented Pumpernickel Soil. The courses are actually the narrative
courses of the story being told.”
In addition to ‘Woolf,
the film also reminded me of last year’s Eye in the Sky in the
way it handles a controversial problem, attacking it from all sides with
each side presenting its case. Based on Herman Koch’s book, Overman
clearly takes no position, which is nice, although I found the ending
unsatisfying. Still, the acting is terrific. I can’t single out any of
them, although I’m partial to Hall because she continues to give
outstanding performance after outstanding performance without getting
much credit or any awards recognition (one Golden Globe nomination),
because, like ‘Woolf, they all stand out. They are aided by a
smart script and a wonderful score, for which I can find no credit.
For a fairly long
film full of talk, the pace is outstanding; it passed the watch test
with flying colors.