Movie, Reviews

“The Dinner” a Family Divided

 

The interesting drama The Dinner puts you in the middle of a meeting that turns a family upside down over a cruel incident that will affect their lives forever. Nicely directed by Oren Moverman the film turns a contentious situation into a battle between brothers that sickens as the predictable story plays out. Sometime tough to contemplate, The Dinner gives the audience a full four course meal in destroying relationships.

Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) has a chance to at being Governor of his state with his numbers climbing every day. But with the release of a video that has gone viral, his possibilities are in jeopardy. He and his current wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) invite his brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife Claire (Laura Linney) to dinner at a swank restaurant to discuss how to overcome a possible crisis.

Steve Coogan, Richard Gere, Rebecca Hall and Laura Linney in THE DINNER

At the center of their discussion will be a crime committed by Paul’s teenage son Michael (Charlie Plummer) and Stan’s boy Rick (Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick) who along with adopted son Beau (Miles J. Harvey) have committed a heinous act that was recorded on their phones. With the subject on the table, each course of food service reveals cutting skeletons in each of their closets.

Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) proposes a toast as Claire (Laura Linney) raises her glass in THE DINNER

The film plays out with a lot a tension from the start to the final chapter where deep seeded issues are finally revealed. Written and directed by Oren Moverman, who brought films like Love and Mercy (the Beach Boy’s Brian Wilson story), the Oscar nominated The Messenger and I’m Not There (a rumination on the life of Bob Dylan) to the screen, turns up the heat in this clash between brothers, wives and sons keeping it taught on the screen.

If there is a downside besides predictability, it’s the lack of some good comedic relief that’s needed to give the audience a rest between meal courses. Although Moverman inserts Dylan Heinz (Michael Chernus) as the restaurant manager who tries to cool down the dinner party by describing what’s in his dishes he’s serving, it just tends to make matters worse and distracting from the issues rather than make some light of them. The only other issue I found was the abrupt ending that’s a little too vague.

Paul (Steve Coogan) and Stan (Richard Gere) discuss their options in THE DINNER

The acting by the central four characters is good, but Gere gets a little pompous and probable with his Stan modulating the other characters. While it may be what director Moverman wanted, it just doesn’t work as a catalyst to get the audience on board his political agenda or defeat of it. Outshining everyone, Steve Cogan puts on a good show trying to come to grips with what has happened involving his son while trying to control his psychological affliction. His Paul has more issues than the rest at the table and director Moverman uses Cogan to press the conversation to the bitter ending.

Laura Linney develops her character well giving in to Steve at times, yet trying to side with the others at the table. She has issues with Steve’s new wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) having been a friend of Barbra Lohman (Chloe Sevigny) and you can feel the burn between the two. On the other side of the coin, Katelyn supports her husband until he starts to turn in favor of taking the whole mess to the press.

The Dinner has been Rated R by the MPAA for disturbing violent content, and language throughout. The rude and abusive language does rise to a high level so be cautious when deciding to allow immature children see the film. The film may give you a bit of déjà vu if you saw the film Carnage starring Christoph Waltz and Jodi Foster that was more enjoyable to watch.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A nicely directed film, but the predictability and vague ending just doesn’t do it for me.

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny, Charlie Plummer, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Miles J. Harvey, Adepero Oduye, Michael Chernus.
Directed by: Oren Moverman
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: Rated R for disturbing violent content, and language throughout
Running Time: 2 hours
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Distributed by: The Orchard

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Film Editor John Delia has been on all sides of the movie business from publications to film making. He has worked as a film critic with ACED Magazine for more than 11 years and earned a Bachelors degree in communications from the University of Florida. John is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Follow John on Twitter @staragent1 or send John a message at jdelia@acedmagazine.com