There are thousands of ways to tell a story. In my opinion, for movies, the most straightforward way of creating a timeline and telling a story is always the best. When there is an overt attempt to be different, very often the strange and unusual storytelling becomes greater than the purpose of the film because following what is going on, becomes too much of a strange experience.
I admit that I have never seen a story told the way it is told in the new film, “The Dinner”. Two brothers and their two wives meet at a very expensive restaurant, a restaurant so expensive that each course and every item on the menu requires a long explanation from the waiter. At the top of each new course of the dinner, there is a new part of the story that is revealed through the use of flashbacks.
The main characters in this story are Stan Lowman, who is a politician running for Governor, played by Richard Gere, his mentally disturbed brother played by Steve Coogan and their wives played by Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall. The flashbacks are mostly about Lowman’s brother and the various reasons for his mental illnesses and how it relates to his job as a high school history teacher and of all things, Gettysburg and the Civil War.
The story telling at times during the many different flashbacks was I thought too scattered and seemed to be trying too hard to be different almost to the point of throwing the entire story under a bus. The main message of this movie had to do with a horrendous act of cruelty done by each couple’s teenage sons and then discussing what was the best way to handle the situation, especially considering that Lowman is running for Governor. What followed was an extremely strange and abrupt ending to this film that seemed almost as if the director ran out of film.
For these reasons, despite the good acting in this film, I cannot recommend the Dinner.