My Dinner with Andre
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Top Customer Reviews
A lot of people are turned off by this film because it's mainly one extended scene of two unglamorous people talking about existence. But what a conversation, and what a scene! Andre Gregory's bizarre, surreal story and his catharsis about the nature of modern life that comes from it is powerful stuff, but the real punch comes from Wallace Shawn, our Everyman, and his reaction to it. It's a shame that so many can't watch more than 10 minutes of this movie, because it is ultimately Shawn, at the end, who speaks their thoughts.
MDWA demands your attention for two hours, which is no easy task, because there is no real narrative in the traditional sense. It also demands multiple viewings, because it is rich with subtle detail, and there's a lot to take in. Notice, for instance, the continual references to the Holocaust, culminating in Gregory's account of his friend's theory about the city-as-modern-concentration-camp. And as you watch these two actors play, ostensibly, themselves, you wonder how much of the film is true and how much is a carefully constructed narrative. It's a great mystery, one that I prefer unsolved.
Kudos also go to the director, the great Louis Malle, whose control is so precise that you almost forget you're watching a movie as opposed to two people just talking. It's a reminder of how the great directors are the ones who can do so much with so little. You'll never look at a blockbuster the same way again.
The reason I can't give this film 5 stars is that the video transfer is HORRIBLE. The color is often off, and the sound is mediocre at best. Hopefully someone will save and restore this gem of a film.
Do yourself a favor and SEE THIS MOVIE. You'll probably complain about doing it, but you'll feel immensely gratified afterward.
There are no character names; there is no 'plot;' Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, both prominent actors/playwrights of New York, meet after not having seen each other for years and they shoot the breeze. I learned that it's not as extemporaneous as I originally had imagined - Shawn and Gregory got together, recorded hours of their conversations, and then compiled a script based on them. The 'restaurant' is actually a defunct hotel, the waiters and barkeepers all actors. But there's a transcendence to it all, as the men sit and chat (mostly the powerful, lively Andre Gregory doing the talking), food being brought out to them.
What heightens the power of the film is the setup that Wallace gives in the voice-over before their dinner: Andre, the man he meets, has been living a peculiar existence traveling all over the world, when he used to never want to leave his family. A friend of Wallace's saw Andre weeks before sobbing uncontrollably on the street because he was violently moved by a line in Bergman's Autumn Sonata. Like Wallace, we don't know what to expect in the very context of the dinner conversation.Read more ›
When I checked, the first review which appeared on the Amazon page of this new criterion collection version is an old review from 10 years ago. It trashes the DVD release and calls for a new version. Well, it's this criterion collection version which, 10 years later, has arrived to correct the errors which the review talks about. I'm referring to the review here that is titled "But no stars for the DVD". So don't get confused-- this edition is new.
As for the movie itself, I'm taking the time to write these remarks because it's a great movie that is well worth watching and watching again. By its very nature, as a two hour conversation, you can't absorb all of it the first time, so watch it's more worth buying than many movies. In fact, it played a significant part in raising my interest to the post theatrical work of Jerzy Grotowski, who Andre discusses in the movie.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I know it's a classic but I must not have been in the mood. Just couldn't get into it.Published 4 days ago by jfb
I made it about 30 minutes (to the first course) and couldn't bear any more. I love existential philosophy, but all I've heard so far makes me feel like I went to dinner with a... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Susanne
There was only 1 10 minute part in the entire movie worth listening to. The entire movie is them sitting at a table and talking. Very boring.Published 3 months ago by frank
This wonderful film holds up year after year. The conversation remains articulate and often fascination.Published 3 months ago by Kathleen Mccord
I learned more about reality and the meaning of existence in 2 hours from this movie than I did from a university course of the same name that lasted a semester. Read morePublished 4 months ago by J. Hansen
My Dinner with Andre is one of those films you may well hear about, because it is really pretty different. Read morePublished 4 months ago by rbrogan3
I normally don't begin any composition with the pronoun I, however it could scarcely be more appropriate in the present instance: How the viewer regards "My Dinner with... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Sarpedon
|Topic||From this Discussion|
|Any news on a release of a better DVD for this film?||
Hi, yes, it's a scandal My Dinner With Andre has not yet received the high quality reissue it deserves. Criterion is currently releasing many of Malle's earlier films, following reissues by Optimum Releasing (.com) in Europe, so there is hope it may happen soon. If you love Malle's films seek the... Read More
Jun 12, 2008 by Jack | See all 3 posts
|You've got to be kidding?!||
If you can't see the value in what they discuss, then you can't see the value in conciousness and levels of awareness. Many have commented this is one of the best movies in terms of the dialogue and message. So either they are ignorant buffoons - or maybe you are. If you ever get a chance,... Read More
Jun 18, 2009 by W. V. Valle | See all 6 posts