Criterion Corner: My Dinner with Andre. 1981

The Criterion Collection for years have been releasing the best versions of movies on DVD and Blue Ray.  They are hands down the ultimate praise a film can receive,and while many claim  the Oscar to be  the ultimate recognition.  Having the work and praise that goes into a Criterion edition.  Shows that it was put together by film lovers for film lovers.  This section is going to be dedicated to some of the great movies in this growing collection.


My Dinner Criterion

My Dinner with Andre    (1981)

Cast: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory

Writers: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory

Director: Louis Malle

I want to start off this review by stating that in no way do I recommend that you watch this with other people.  This is not a party movie or a date movie in any way, shape, or form.  This is one that is best watched alone.  If you give this one a serious chance, you may find some of the things discussed are related to where you are in your own life.

The story is very simple.  Two old friends (Shawn and Gregory, playing characters with the same names) meet in a restaurant one night and they begin to talk, and talk, and talk.  Their conversation lasts a whole two hours and, to be honest with you, at around the twenty minute mark I almost shut this movie off.  It’s not because I don’t enjoy a good conversation or good dialogue, because I really do.  “Glengary Glen Ross” has a lot of talking and it’s a bona fide classic.  Same thing goes for “Waking Life“, “12 Angry Men“,  “Reservoir Dogs“, and many others.  Those movies were mostly dialogue driven.  Mostly.  But this one didn’t seem to go any where.  Andre was doing all of the talking at first and his stories were not that interesting.  It was just about where he traveled and some of the different people he met.  It was a major snooze fest, and just when I was about to curse everyone involved in this movie for dealing me some bad shit, WHAM!! It hits me.  One of the characters says something that sparks an idea in my head.  What he says will be irrelevant to you, but it sparked feelings inside me about where my life was and where it was heading that I had never thought of before.  It was the first time I felt my successes out-weighed my failures and I no longer felt depressed about my place in life.  I’m not saying the movie will have the same effect on you as it did for me.

Most people will mainly know Wallace Shawn from his role in “The Princess Bride” (“Inconceivable”) and as the voice of the Dinosaur in the “Toy Story” trilogy.  It was interesting to see him play a regular person and the voice of reason to Andre Gregory’s rants about the human condition.  He, in some ways, represents the audience.  I have never seen Mr. Gregory in anything before this and when I looked him up on IMDB I recognized the titles he was in, but not him.  I’m not going to rate this movie, because it’s hard to critique something as simple as two guys sitting at a table and talking.  There wasn’t a story or visuals to discuss, just two people having a conversation.  Their discussion spoke to me, but it may not speak to you.

CRITERION SPECIAL EDITION DOUBLE-DISC SET:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer
  • New video interviews with actors André Gregory and Wallace Shawn by filmmaker and friend Noah Baumbach
  • “My Dinner with Louis,” an episode from the BBC program Arena, in which Shawn interviews director Louis Malle
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin and the prefaces written by Gregory and Shawn for the published screenplayNew cover by Neil Kellerhouse

 

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About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcast The Film Pasture and As You Watch. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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8 Responses to Criterion Corner: My Dinner with Andre. 1981

  1. I just bought this on VHS for a quarter, but I have not watched it yet; however, your review has caused it to move up on my (endless, mental) list. I bet my husband will refuse to watch it even, which means it should be no problem for me to see it alone, as you recommend. I will let you know if the movie facilitates any epiphanies for me.

  2. The Vern says:

    Awesome, Erin. I look froward to hearing what you thought of it. You may hate it and you may be upset I even reviewed it,but it’s a conversation that has some moments worth listening too.

  3. Chris says:

    An interesting watch I remember. It was good, but I recall thinking I would prefer just to read the script at my own pace. The dialogue was a bit too fast-paced for me personally, I couldn’t keep up.
    If you liked My Dinner with Andre, you should check out Mindwalk (1990), it has the same approach to dialogue, with a beautiful setting by a castle.

  4. The Vern says:

    Thanks for the recommendation. I watched the trailer and it looks good I will check it out this weekend.

  5. table9mutant says:

    Good review. Sounds interesting but one would definitely need to be in the right mood for it! I do love Wallace Shawn’s voice. 🙂

  6. I’ll be honest, I’ve never seen this and the only reason I’ve heard of it is because of Community (if you don’t watch that show they do a sort of spoof episode). I’ll have to check it out. Great review!

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