Renowned Dutch writer and actor, Herman Koch has his novel The Dinner now available for viewing on the U.S. silver screen. Filmmaker Oren Moverman based his latest screenplay and film The Dinner on Koch’s novel. Moverman brings to light Koch’s dark psychological thriller that attempts to address today’s culture of insanity and inhumanity. Koch correlates it to the horrific atrocities of the United States’ Civil War, the bloodiest battle on American soil killing 50,000 soldiers.
Koch’s international best seller has been translated into twenty-one languages since 2009. Moverman’s deduction of Koch’s literary phenomenon is that his premise looks for answers from questions lodged deep within the human soul. Koch’s riveting and descriptive modern-day story is filled with controversy and intrigue. Moverman directs his screenplay with no less shocking twists and turns. The two remarkable artists connect to describe a chilling morality tale. Truth be told: their storyline might be closer to reality than given credence.
Stan (Richard Gere) and Paul (Steve Coogan) Lohman are estranged siblings. The brothers come to dine together in exquisite style, along with their wives, Katelyn (Rebecca Hall – Stan’s second wife) and Claire (Laura Linney – Paul’s wife), to discuss a family tragedy.
The very posh public restaurant annoys Paul because he feels out of place. He would rather have the needed conversation over pizza and a beer. Older brother Stan, on the other hand, wants a peaceful atmosphere for their dialogue that, no doubt, would be highly emotional. Stan hopes the environment will be a safe place for all four adults to discuss with insight, maturity and respect while sharing their opinions.
Paul, a history teacher on disability after a nervous breakdown, seethes resentment for Stan since childhood. Stan, a beloved congressman running for governor looked after his little brother his whole life due to Paul’s mental illness, a debilitating disease that plagued Paul’s very existence. Never to have enjoyed sibling camaraderie, it’s imperative that the two must now become one, if only for this moment in time.
The two couples each have 16-year-old sons. The cousins, together, committed a horrific crime shocking the country, not to mention their parents. The boys captured their act on video and posted it on the Internet. Their verbal conversation and the enjoyment of the sinister escapade were recorded but difficult to pin-point the identity of the boys, which may never be discovered.
Stan, Katelyn, Paul and Claire, as guardians of the boys, have to decide what action will be taken. Through the course of The Dinner each parent shows his/her “true colors” regarding commitment to family, relationships and morality. How far will each parent go to protect those they love? The ultimate question is to be answered over the course of The Dinner. (Karen Pecota)
Another Opinion: The Dinner 💣
This is the third attempt to bring Dutch author Herman Koch’s book to the screen. The first was the Dutch version Het Diner by director (Memno Meyjes) in 2013 which ended with a three-star rating as did the Italian version I Nostril Ragazzi by director Ivano De Matteo in 2014. The difference between those two films is that the Dutch version was nominated for several audience awards whereas the Italian film succeeded in winning several awards in Venice. Now here comes Hollywood’s attempt using director, Oren Moverman, who actually took over the director’s role originally planned as Cate Blanchet’s debut. The film starts off well by setting up the tension between the two Lohman brothers (Gere and Coogan). One brother is perceived as psychologically imbalanced while the other is taking on strong political role. The two prominent brothers and their wives dine at this super expensive and prestigious restaurant as the film begins to unfold while at the same time takes a bad turn. The characters become more and more unbelievable especially with flashbacks such as the visit back East to see the great battlefields of the Civil War which was supposed to make us sympathize with the brothers but instead made the situation seem ridiculous. This film was hard to swallow as we watch the moral fibres of our society becoming thinner by the minute when these two couples debate on how they should react after their children have committed unthinkable crime. Personally I would prefer to see Cate Blanchet take a crack at this and see if she could expose the injustices that took place but without using such a heavy hand. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)
- USA 2017
- Opening June 8, 2017
- Directed by: Oren Moverman
- Writing credits: Oren Moverman
- Principal actors: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan