Reviewed byEarl GosnellVote: 9/10/10
"The Dinner" opens with a collage of: a faint radio voice asking aboutdanger, panning to an ATM closet, then to a Civil War memorial, agraveyard, and then some rap music with its distinctive vocabulary.Some kids are seen drinking until the cops bust it up and the youngestpukes.
What follows is some of the most boring footage ever shown, where highschool history teacher Paul Lohman (Steve Coogan) narrates to us hislove for ancient history and to his wife his desire not to attend aplanned dinner. It can only get better from here.
They meet up with Paul's brother Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) aconsummate politician. Dinner conversation coupled with some judiciousflashbacks explore the historical and political dimensions of racism inAmerica as they discuss solutions to the jam their boys are in.
Stan's hard working (black) assistant Nina (Adepero Oduye) while notoccupying the high side of any glass ceiling nevertheless can exemplifyLincoln's Emancipation Proclamation that exhorts the freed Negroes toaccept available work at fair wages. Paul's high school with its halfWhite half Negro attendance would follow the Eisenhower era decision ofBrown v. Board of Education on integration. The colored diners at anexclusive restaurant represent their access to services as demanded byMLK. And the remaining progress is covered by Stan who has theAfrican-American vote sewn up.
The problem arises when Stan and his wife's black younger boy Beauhaving been adopted tries playing the race card to gain power with hissibling and cousin, they being natural offspring. Paul resents himpersonally. If institutional racism has been completely conquered insociety, is it even possible to have racism with just one black personin a family? You'd be surprised.
That's just the political dimension; the historical is worse. Thebloody battle of Gettysburg pales compared to the ancient Deluge ofPaul's period. Ellen Gunderson Traylor in her historical novel _Noah_(Polson, MT: Port Hole Pub., 2001) writes, "prurient lusts so corruptedthe line of Adam, that it was a rare family indeed which had no bloodof the gods in its veins. The daughters of mankind had so often beenvulnerable to seduction, that it was extremely rare to find anunblemished line" (p. 59-60). "Noah was perfect in his generations"(Gen. 6:9), so any impurities would have come from the female side. In"The Dinner" the source of mental illness in the Lohman family line wasattributed to their mother ("Mom was a wacko.") In Noah's family itappears to have been from maybe a handmaid the mother of Ham theyoungestafter the mother of Shem and Japheth quit bearing, whobrought the bad seed, which was demonstrated in the drunken Noahincident of Gen. 9:18-27 resulting in a fixed servile position of theyoungest son of three, whose offspring through Cush (Hebrew for black)colonized Africa. In "The Dinner" history repeats itself in an incidentwith a "stinko bum" and miscreant son(s). Some rearrangement in themodern telling is added to keep it interesting.
The second time I saw "The Dinner" I wore my Robert E. Lee T-shirt inthe spirit of the movie's depiction of the Battle of Gettysburg.Passing through our liberal college campus to drop off my ballot in thebox along the way I remembered that my shirt did have a smallConfederate battle flag on the front. But nobody here in Oregon noticedor cared. I suppose it's mainly in the South there was such a furorover it. This film is like that. Although there's a strong suggestionof a linkage to a biblical incident that befell Ham and his offspring,only some people would even notice it or be concerned.
Richard Greer was all-in as a politician. Steve Coogan was a so-so"psycho brother"I've seen scarier psychos. The women exhibited astrong range of emotion. Miscreant children looked bad. The innocentkid(s) had little acting to do except to be the deer caught in aheadlight.
The flashbacks are set off by soft lighting. The ending is notemotionally satisfying unless you listen to the closing song all theway through. I found the movie compelling once I got through its boringbeginning.
Reviewed bygsandra614Vote: 8/10/10
I didn't know exactly where this movie was going with the Gettysburgaspect of the story, but it all starts to come together when you thinkabout how people throughout history have told themselves stories thatjustified a bad decision in life. What happens when your are face toface with a clear moral dilemma? Can you bury your integrity in lies?Surely, such a deception will haunt you if you have a conscience. Selfinterest makes it harder to do the right thing, and this test will befaced by everyone at some point in their life.
Reviewed bymisel982001Vote: 8/10/10
The Dinner is a slow paced film about human relations and decisionmaking. To begin with, the cast excellent and its acting is equivalentof their acclaimed career. Geere performs compellingly a senator whosetroubled relationship with his mentally unstable brother (Coogan) isabout to reach a critical point because of a sudden accidental incidentabout their children. Their wives (Linney and Hall) are desperatelytrying to influence their final decisions. This film could also be aplay because the story is based on the dialogues and not on scenerychange. The script is well written and coherent while the characterdepth is very adequate. The final moments of the film will find theaudience questioning themselves which decision they would make if theywere experiencing the same circumstances. Drawbacks of this filminclude the slow pace and the sometimes persistent focus on Coogan'scharacter. Despite these it is a worth seeing.
A former history teacher and his wife Claire meet at a fancy restaurant with his elder brother, a prominent politician and his wife Babette. The plan is to discuss over dinner how to handle a crime committed by their teenage sons. The violent act of the two boys had been filmed by a security camera and shown on TV, but, so far, they have not been identified. The parents have to decide on what to do.