THE DINNER has such a great, high concept of a pot boiler plot, that it pains me to say that this is one of the year’s worst films. This film was 2 hours when it didn’t need to be, it could’ve gotten rid of all the flashbacks except for a very important few, completely overhauled the stupid ending, stayed at the dinner between the four main characters more, and had been a very, very tight incredible 90 minutes. Instead we get a bunch of flashbacks, that not only completely murder the film, but that really don’t have to do with shit other than the fact that the writer is trying to over explain things that had already been shown to us. The performances are fantastic, but not even close to want to come back for another course.
If you didn’t know, The Dinner is about 4 people, two of them are brothers with their wives, whose kids have done such a horrible crime, and due to some circumstances haven’t been identified yet, that they have dinner at a really fucking expensive, posh, fancy, restaurant to discuss what to do about it. Sounds like a great dialogue film with utter dread and tension right? Yeah, well maybe it would’ve been with more of maybe only 20 minutes of being at the restaurant in the entire film that has a run time of two hours. Right before the ending, we get a great just tense as fuck ten minutes that I could’ve watched for another 80. Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Rebecca Hall, and Steve Coogan just going at it.
But no, we get flashbacks, too many of them, one of them one of the dumbest and boring sequences I have seen in all my 30 years on this Earth. Now a couple of these flashbacks are very, very important, such as what their kids ended up doing, those completely needed to stay in the film. But flashbacks dealing with some of the couple’s past relationships, mental health history, and other jibberish really didn’t need to be shown. It could’ve been told to us some in the dialogue, it could’ve shown us the mental health stuff with Steve Coogan’s incredible acting in this. And it did during the dinner, but just kept hitting the nail on the head in flashbacks that I didn’t really need to see and were just plain unnecessary.
What I really want to talk about in this review is this 10 to 15 minute flashback sequence that has to be THE MOST unnecessary, bullshit, pointless, boring, God awful thing I have ever seen in cinema. It is just Richard Gere and Steve Coogan, a flashback trying to portray Coogan’s collapsing mental health, going through a memorial of the Battle of Gettysburg, and then dissolves into almost ten minutes of Stephen Lang just talking about the Battle of Gettysburg like a history show. It was one of the most boring scenes I have ever been put through and complete horseshit. Was this scene in the novel it was based on or did the director have awful choices about what to do in this film.
The direction in this film is another part of the problem. It’s awful. All these choices the director makes is just awkwardly awkward. It’s like director Oren Moverman is trying to make a mainstream thriller with an avant-garde film. And it doesn’t work. At all. Imagine if you will watching an Avengers movie and then halfway into the film the camera just focuses on the American Flag while reading out our Bill of Rights. Yeah, that random and awkward. Just…ugh…pointless and made me hate the film more than I already did with the other stupid flashbacks. Oh, and the ending sucks. It abruptly ends with hardly any resolution.
I wanted to see The Dinner, not The Flashbacks with Dinner, or Visions during Dinner. I wanted to see the conversation taking place in present day during dinner. I wanted 80 minutes of that, with a ten minute flashback to see what the children did. Performances do not make a movie, I have said that time and time again. You need a combo of performances, plot, cinematography, scene significance, direction, all of it in one big melting pot. And if one of those things doesn’t work at least 90% of the time, you don’t have a film. This film has performances and maybe 10% of a plot. There was no direction and absolutely no scene significance. You had 10% of a good movie, and usually, on my radar, if you go under 30%, you get one of the worst films of the year. And here I serve you one of the worst on a giant platter full of shit.