“I stumbled on a blurb describing this book back when it came out. It reminded me of God of Carnage, a play I had seen on Broadway that was phenomenal (that would eventually become a mediocre movie). I read it, and I remember that while I enjoyed the story, I was frustrated with the pace it took to get to finding out what the real subject of the titular dinner was, and I recall being underwhelmed. It could have gone darker, could have gone further.
That didn’t hinder my excitement for the movie, especially when the cast includes a reunion of Primal Fear‘s Richard Gere and Laura Linney, plus Steve Coogan and Rebecca Hall. The trailer looked full of intrigue and darkness, and damn good acting. Turns out, it had the same flaws as the book. Go figure.
So what is this dinner about anyways? Two brothers with a strained relationship and their wives are meeting at a very fancy dinner to discuss some horrific incident involving their sons. God of Carnage had a similar premise, which devolved into the parents acting more vicious and childish than their children, in a striking yet satirical way. The Dinner (movie and book) sort of build, but never reach a conclusion that I find particularly satisfying. Like they don’t know what they’re ultimately trying to say.
That said, fantastic showcase for this cast, in particular Linney and Coogan. Linney has been a favorite since the aforementioned Primal Fear, and she deserves any showcase like this one that she’s able to receive. At any given point that our foursome was on screen, she commanded the most attention, whether or not she was the center. Coogan, was impressive because this was a strong and dramatic turn from the typically comedic actor. I’ve always been a sucker for that, and this performance justifies that. Gere and Hall while fantastic, were less remarkable. Gere’s performance not being too much of a departure from what we’ve seen before, and Hall getting the short end of the stick as far as content.
If I were to rewatch it (unlikely), I’d either stop halfway, or skip over the non-incident (referring to the kids’ incident that drove the whole thing) flashbacks. I don’t remember if we had as many in the book, but they certainly dragged the whole movie down. But just the right clips of that cast interacting with each other would be worth seeing.
The Dinner – \m/ \m/ \n”