Two wealthy sets of parents agree to meet up at a classy restaurant. The focus of the discussion is to decide what to do about a horrible crime their sons have committed. As the Dinner progress, the conversation becomes tense and key characters become testy with one another. Will “The Dinner” destroy these relationships forever?
For those who are not aware, The Dinner is based on a bestselling novel, now “a film adaption”. The cast includes Richard Gere, Rebecca Hall, Laura Linney & Steve Coogan.
While the plot is easy to understand, and the premise is mentioned early on in the film, I was surprised how much of the film avoids the main plot. The Dinner decides to take many other paths throughout its story, including random flashbacks (with no understanding of timeline), deep subplots about the history of war (in particularly Gettysburg) and a surprising turnabout mental illness. The actual Dinner is avoided for the majority of the film. Instead, it all feels like someone is just trying to stall the audience for 2 hours (and sadly, the excellent cast are all wasted). As the severe discussion is about to occur, our lead characters get interrupted with lame reasons such as “sir you have a phone call”. At such points, the film storyline stops, and as the guest await their return, the film moves on to random tangents. It’s not until the film’s 3rd act that something promising occurs, but it then fizzles right out thanks to a disappointing ending. It also is a surprise that the film doesn’t give the audience a single character that is likeable or enjoyable to watch. Every person in this film is silly or a horrible person, with the slight exception of Richard Gere’s character who gives a minor display of heart. Ultimately even the academy award-winning silver fox himself couldn’t save this mess.
The director uses poor transitions, and the scenes are jumbled. Considering the films setting, you won’t find many people in the background, plus the director uses such dull and bland colours throughout the film. Even during flashbacks, there is a slight soft focus over the screen to make it look like an older moment, but it’s rather annoying and distracting.
Overall, The Dinner showed strong potential but fell short on my scoreboard. While I will admit I’ve never read the book, I’m very confident that those who love the book will be disappointed with this film adaption. With such a strong cast, the characters are dislikeable combined with a slow script that became truly painful to watch. This is a three-course (three-course is hyphenated) meal I suggest you don’t try to digest.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden