The Dinner: an almost perfect thriller with first class performances

Richard Gere and Steve Coogan shine in Oren Moverman’s new film

Haute cuisine and crimes, social conflict and politics, family ties and honesty: The Dinner, the new thriller by israeli filmmaker Oren Moverman, has all the ingredients to make a successful story. If you add to that Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall and Laura Linney you have everything a director can dream of. But The Dinner is also the big screen version of a book, so risks are always around the corner.

As the title suggests, the film tells the story of a family reunion at a luxury restaurant between the two brothers, Stan and Paul Lohman, and their respective wives.

Stan is a VIP, a Congressman running for governor, while Paul is a high school professor who has always been overshadowed by his brother, hiding his fragility behind an aggressive sarcasm. What seems like a regular family reunion is actually an excuse for discussing a terrible secret: the four diners are aware of a murder committed by their teenage kids and, as parents, they have to deal with the consequences together.

Taken from the best seller novel The Dinner, by writer Herman Koch, Moverman’s film is a savage portrait of contemporary America and its racist side, the one that’s ready to sacrifice anything to save appearances. Though the movie center is the crime, the story is held up by the masterful performances of the four protagonists, whose life experiences explode on the screen in all their violence. Steve Coogan deserves a special mention: he’s absolutely perfect in the role of the fragile and tormented Paul.

The restaurant is the main scene but also a metaphor, a sort of “luxury box” for horrible crimes. But even if that’s where much of the film takes place, forget the suffocating atmospheres of Carnage by Roman Polanski: here the flashbacks are continuous, like pieces of a puzzle that, scene after scene, takes shape on the screen. The Dinner is a very contemporary film: there are generational clash between parents and kids, their controversial relationship of with social networks and their distorted perception of their actions.

Moverman’s directing is more than good, Bobby Bukowski cinematography is elegant, that’s why Alex Hall’s film editing is the only element which looks mismatched: Moverman, former journalist turned into a filmmaker, surrenders to typical news/documentary cuts and to some psychedelic music contaminations, maybe in an attempt to create a “disturbed” atmosphere, but sometimes it’s like watching another movie. The choice to highlight some personal aspects of Paul’s life (from the battle of Gettysburg, that you can read as a metaphor of life, to the long mental diseases story of his family) emphasizes the feeling.

Those are the frills that The Dinner didn’t need: with such a cast, it was enough to follow the “less is more” motto to turn a very good thriller into the perfect one.

The film had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival in February: it was released in the United States on May 5, and it will hit Italian theaters on May 18.

Please follow and like us:
Follow by Email
Visit Us
Follow Me

Related posts