The Dinner ⭐⭐

Richard Gere and Steve Coogan are brothers (a sentence I thought I would never write), one is a gubernatorial candidate and the other a seemingly unhinged history teacher. Over a super-fancy dinner in an ultra-chic restaurant, they and their wives played by Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall are here to discuss the fallout after a heinous incident involving their children and the film teases out all their back-stories and the incident in question between the many courses that night. In 2014’s Time Out of Mind, Gere and writer-director Oren Moverman have tackled the question of homelessness and mental illness before. Here, they revisit them with additional rich white people entitlement and parental responsibilities and the result is a well-intentioned mess. The first hour of the film takes far too long setting up the background in fragmented flashbacks and it irritates more than intrigues. Personally, I have seen too much Alan Partridge to be entirely convinced of Coogan’s character’s trajectory from angry to broken man and his obsessive recital of historical texts relating to Gettysburg feels pretentious and alienating. While there are some unexpected reversal of characters as the film develops, there is hardly anyone here you really care for or care to rally behind. After numerous distractions and interruptions, the film finally delivers one great scene between the parents as the full extent of their moral dilemma is laid bare but there is no satisfying catharsis that comes with it. Instead, it is left hanging in the air awkwardly unresolved. While there is an argument for this sort of open ending as life is never as tidy, but here it feels unfinished and frustrating, when I suspect they are aiming for stylistically European. Imagine a souped (pun intended) up Carnage without the biting humour and clever dialogue, and you’ll get this forgettable head-scratcher that doesn’t work either as a morality tale or a satire.

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