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This is a case of style over substance. The cinematography is rich and architectural; the music has been mindfully chosen to provide subtle counterpoint; the performances are all exceptional, but the script, alas, disappoints. The Dinner, the latest film from director Oren Moverman, is just like the extravagant meal at the centre of the plot – audacious and showy, but leaving you feeling unsatisfied.

Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) is a congressman on the brink of becoming governor. His second wife, Katelyn (Rebecca Hall), suffers his disruptive political life begrudgingly yet devotedly, accepting his two now teenage boys as her own. Paul Lohman (Steve Coogan), is Stan’s caustic, misanthropic brother, a history teacher with a mental illness. His wife Claire (Laura Linney) is his stabilising force. They too have a teenage son.

On Stan’s invitation, they all meet for dinner at a very ostentatious, exclusive restaurant. What’s on the table, apart from absurdly pretentious menu items, is a very serious issue involving all their children about which they need to agree on a course of action. And they can’t.

The scenes in the restaurant are riveting, but repeatedly and unnecessarily interrupted with flashbacks and asides. The ending will divide people.

Nice presentation but not enough meat.


Reviewed by Rita Bratovich

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