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My Dinner with Andre (1981)

Andre Gregory , Wallace Shawn , Louis Malle  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Jean Lenauer, Roy Butler
  • Directors: Louis Malle
  • Writers: Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn
  • Producers: Beverly Karp, Dave Franke, George W. George, Keith W. Rouse
  • Format: Color, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Fox Lorber
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 1998
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (165 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305069743
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,783 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "My Dinner with Andre" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The sheer audacity of My Dinner with Andre drew throngs of curious filmgoers who made the film the most talked-about art-house hit of 1981. After all, who'd ever heard of a movie consisting of nearly two hours of nonstop dinner conversation? Ah... but this isn't just any conversation--it's the kind of mesmerizing, soul-searching, life-affirming exploration that we feel privileged to listen to, and with unobtrusive style, director Louis Malle invites us to eavesdrop to our hearts' and minds' content. The film was written by two New Yorkers at the dinner table, noted playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and well-known stage director Andre Gregory, who essentially play themselves. They taped their conversations for several weeks and Shawn gradually shaped them into a scripted conversation, but you'd never know it from watching the movie. The talk flows and flows until you're captivated by Gregory's stories of world travel and spiritual quests in Poland, India, Tibet, the Sahara desert... the tales of a soul-searcher who'd dropped out of the theater world to rediscover his zest for living. Shawn plays the skeptic, the voice of reason, his feet on the ground but his own mind willing to soar. The cumulative effect of this conversation is almost hypnotic, and certainly plays into our eternal appetite for storytelling. Both primal and sophisticated, witty and profound, My Dinner with Andre is a film that can be savored over time, offering new revelations with each viewing as the listener-viewer develops his or her own appreciation of life's great mysteries. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
133 of 142 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Phenomenal movie, horrible transfer March 29, 2001
My Dinner With Andre is a brilliant, difficult movie.
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.
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107 of 114 people found the following review helpful
I just finished this movie, and I feel like I need to simply get a few thoughts down before my head hits my pillow. I didn't know what to expect entering My Dinner With Andre - after all, it is a movie about two guys who have dinner in a restaurant and talk the whole time. But from the moment that the goofy-looking, awkward Wallace Shawn lumbers down a New York street and we hear his voice-over, I knew that something more was taking place in this movie. What it was, I had no idea.

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.
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154 of 170 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars but no stars for the dvd August 16, 1999
By A Customer
This is my favorite movie of all time. Period. You can sit inon the most interesting conversation ever and I've done it many times,every time finding myself thinking of different things, contemplating my own life and wondering about how crazy Andre actually is and how seriously to take his ideas about how human life came to an end a few decades ago, leaving us all robots in search of some twinge of real feeling. But the dvd is so bad I suspected it was a bootleg. When the camera switches from Andre to Wally the color completely changes. It's all grainy as if recorded on bad tape off a badly receiving tv. At one point a little white hair appears and vacillates on the lower screen for oh about 30 minutes. Are they kidding? There needs to be a new edition of this great movie, and those of us who bought this sham of a version should be allowed to trade it in. Here is a film critiquing the falseness of what our modern life has become: fine, but I don't need an object lesson costing me $20. Out of respect for the sublime Louis Malle, put out a new version!
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By Publius
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Amazon may automatically link my review to the old DVD release of this movie, "My Dinner with Andre," in which case, this may still be confusing. Pay attention- I am referring in my remarks here to the new Criterion Collection DVD version, which has a photo of a knife and fork on a napkin, on a plate, on the cover.

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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, funny, still relevant so many years later!
I'm so happy I saw this movie that I've heard about for years. Some friends started quoting from it and discussing it on facebook, so I watched it. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Bella Diamond
3.0 out of 5 stars Not Quite A Banquet, But Not Quite Ptomaine, Either.
there's "audience" movies, and there's "critic" movies.
of all the films i've ever seen, i can think of no more glaring line-in-the-sand than My Dinner With Andre. Read more
Published 26 days ago by jude pepper
2.0 out of 5 stars What Did I Miss?
Maybe it was because I couldn't stay awake. The non-stop prattling of Andre might have contributed to my inability to remain conscious throughout this slow moving movie. Read more
Published 1 month ago by bvail
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious and Self Absorbed
I will start off with the words that I used for my title. This film is pretentious and self-absorbed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Donald Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
a tour de force, but man it is rather heavy, I mean REALLY heavy, I wish they could have at least gone to different restaurants for a change of pace or something. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Hamlet423
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Engrossing discussion of the big questions: why am I here, what's life all about. This could be Don Quijote & Sancho Panza. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert R. Prochnow
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful tour de force dialogue
Poetry in motion. A stunning dichotomy in approach to life treated with mutual respect and wonderment. I could not take my eyes off the actors and their amazing interplay. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lucinda Ross
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific.
The acting is absolutely superb and shows the qualities of a great conversation. Also underscores the importance of being a good listener. Read more
Published 2 months ago by J. Johnson Bullard
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie for the right price.
I have only one complaint and that is the movie was not rewound. It was maybe view by someone to verify that it was a good version. Read more
Published 2 months ago by paul godfrey
5.0 out of 5 stars All time favorite.
Have watched this over and over. Should have bought the disc by now but keep thinking it's the last time I will watch it.
Published 3 months ago by Surely
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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 Curmudgeon |  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
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