Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant. Gregory, a theater director from New York, is the more talkative of the pair. He relates to Shawn his tales of dropping out, traveling around the world, and experiencing the variety of ways people live, such as a monk who could balance his entire weight on his fingertips. Shawn listens avidly, but questions the value of Gregory's seeming abandonment of the pragmatic aspects of life.Written by
Rick Gregory <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The amount of wine in Wallace Shawn's glass varies in a manner not consistent with his drinking from it (or having it refilled). See more »
The life of a playwright is tough. It's not easy as some people seem to think. You work hard writing plays and nobody puts them on. You take up other lines of work to try to make a living. I became an actor and people don't hire you. So, you just spend your days doing the errands of your trade.
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There are movies made of every kind, of many different genres. While quite a few are entertaining, some films can actually be life changing. "My Dinner With Andre" is one of those films. I first saw the film in the early 1990s, around a decade after it was made. Caught in a vortex of corporate America office work drudgery as a single parent, the movie inspired me then to really examine my life and actively work to change it.
I struggled to understand how a theater director (Andre) could ever become disenchanted with his life enough to drop out and search for more meaning. For me, the ability to do anything artistic to earn a living was a dream come true. As I watched the film, it became apparent how even someone in the arts could become disconnected - in fact, even more so than other people, who had resigned themselves to live the way that they were expected to according to standards they didn't agree with. I came away with the conclusion that it is the artists in society who have an obligation to cast truth's light on culture and how it affects humanity. This is a huge responsibility, and it is often frustrating for creative people to have to confront the mundane aspects of life which can create soul crushing circumstances, driving people to behave in the most inhumane of ways.
Seeing the film again recently, it had a whole new meaning for me. Now that I am on the other side of the spiritually deadening life in corporate America - I can see how my goals and decisions to change my life were extremely necessary - in fact, imperative to my existence. Since the film was made, people have spent decades engaging in all manner of robotic and soul deadening activities - many to the detriment of themselves and everyone around them. We have also seen a technological surge that helped to liberate people to a certain degree, while further enslaving others. Regardless of which type of person one happens to be, at the end of the day, most everyone should work toward doing the things that give them joy - without harming others in the process. While this is much easier said than done, it doesn't make the goal any less important to accomplish. In fact, on a very basic level, it is just as necessary as eating, breathing and sleeping. Maybe even more significant, since human apathy, in its own way, can systematically destroy and sully the spirit driven intention of others.
"My Dinner With Andre" is every bit as relevant now as when it first premiered, perhaps even more so. A conversation about the meaning of life and how people choose to live it, along with all of the outside forces that exist to complicate it, will never go out of style. This is a beautiful masterpiece of a film, that can be watched many times, to produce different points of view which provoke interesting, engaging and enlightening discussions by those who experience it. This is very apparent as Shawn's character, who on the surface seems to disagree with a lot of what Andre says. Yet by the end of the film, on his way home, his eyes observe things in his environment as though a new light was been cast upon them.
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