A former history teacher and his wife Claire meet at a fancy restaurant with his elder brother, a prominent politician and his wife Babette. The plan is to discuss over dinner how to handle a crime committed by their teenage sons. The violent act of the two boys had been filmed by a security camera and shown on TV, but, so far, they have not been identified. The parents have to decide on what to do.Written by
For this movie, The Dinner, English actor Steve Coogan's American accent used sounded so much like Willem Dafoe, that jokingly, Dafoe contacted Coogan to ask him to do voice overs for a new puppet show he was supposedly "in-production" and asked if he could use his voice to help out finishing while Dafoe was out sick. Coogan thought it was a serious offer and asked to talk it over with his agent. Dafoe promptly told him he was joking and did offer to keep in contact, "just in case!" See more »
The premiere gave way to a little scandal here, as the original writer of the novel bluntly refused to attend the reception afterwards, citing how bad the movie was and strayed from his intentions, finding it too moralistic as he saw it as an immorality tale; and themed too much around violence and mental illness.
This is however a well-directed movie by Moverman that stands on its own and the whole feud is a classic case of writer dissatisfaction with the liberties a director has taken with the material, remember King for The Shining or Kundera for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. So instead of playing the blunt drama queen the writer could have respected the interpretation, but they almost never do being in love with their own material.
This is well-directed by hiding the story like Haneke often does, next to putting you multiple times on the wrong track where the movie is heading. The movie works by playing to fundamental human psychological weaknesses the characters show in observing and interpreting information, and working that into the script so the viewers make the same mistakes. Clever. Sometimes however, the director is too much in love with his script, with overlong sequences in Gettysburg (we get the picture after ten seconds, but it draws out for minutes) and history lessons by Coogan as a teacher. Next to this it has several weakness in editing, the cinematography is also average, and the dark humor often falls flat.
Gere, Coogan and especially Linney give excellent performances, contributing to the unsettling effect the movie ultimately has.
Yes, it is a morality tale, but I disagree with the general view currently established that this is preachy, after all the ending is open and the moral dilemma is anchored in personal strife and views on solving these dilemmas, referring back to several schools in ethics like teleology, deontology and utilitarianism.
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