Review: My Dinner With Andre

Grades

1 Star: Help! Save me from this crap!

2 Stars: It’s an OK movie that could’ve been better, but it was sunk by some major flaws.

3 Stars: A good movie that works, but isn’t quiet great.

4 Stars: A winner. A real triumph of cinema, a movie you need to see.

If you are a fan of Michael Bay movies, stay far away from this movie. My Dinner With Andre is NOT for you! The slow cuts focus on character and no special effects will bore you to tears. For the rest of us though. (real cinema buffs), you will find this movie fascinating. This review is about a wonderful movie that time has forgotten among the masses. I hope this humble review will bring in some new viewers for this wonderful movie that is in my top fifty movies of all time.

The Story

The story is as simple as a story can be. Wally goes to dinner so he can meet a colleague of his Andre, (hence the name of the movie). When Wally arrives at the restaurant, he informed that Andre will be late, so Wally takes a seat waiting for Andre to show up and soon Andre joins him and that is the story. No shocking twist, or plot development. Just a simple, but the wonderful conversation about two friends who try to figure out, what is life. The dialogue is what propels the story, which. Does the story work in the context of the film? Does the mini-series of the Shinning suck more than a black hole? Yep.

Directing

The directing is perfect. Louis Malle takes the minimalist approach. Thank God for that! He lets the characters talk and holds shots for minutes at a time. Malle doesn’t try to do any tricks like some directors do, (McG, please watch this movie and learn that cameras do not need to shake and do fancy tricks every five seconds to tell a good story). By letting the camera focus on the characters and the restaurant, Malle creates a wonderful sense of calmness that makes us feel like we are there with Wally and Andre having dinner with them. The details are so clean and crisp, you want to clean a plate anytime someone eats off of it. Malle should’ve gotten an Oscar-nominated for his wonderful work.

Characters

Wally and Andre are great characters. We get to learn about them through dialogue and wowzers is it wonderful dialogue. Wally and Andre are so interesting, you could listen to them talk for hours. Wally is hopeful about life, whereas Andre seems to be the more cynical of the two. Then you find out why Andre is more cynical, and another layer is added to each mesmerizing character. The performances are spot on. No one breaks character and the actors do not try to upstage each other. They just let it flow and it works to perfection.

Writing

Here is probably the strongest suit of this wonderful movie. The writing. The brilliant screenplay was written with so much love and care by the two main actors Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, it makes the movie so enjoyable to watch. I think they knew that since most of this movie is spent on the dinner listening to these two talk If they weren’t fascinating, or if the conversations they were having were not intriguing, then the whole movie would have sunk. Thank goodness it didn’t. The writing is sharp, on point and philosophical at times. The deep conversations these two tackle make most movies look lightweight by comparison, (cough Green Book). I have a cough. I just got out some bull crap dialogue from a movie that didn’t even have one meaningful conversation. In this movie though, I was enthralled by every word that came out of both of these brilliant actors mouths. This should have won best screenplay hands down.

Flaws

No movie is perfect, and neither is this movie. I think the voice over went on a little too long for my taste. I understand why they put it in the movie, but I think at a certain point, they should’ve stopped. Also, I think a couple of shots should’ve been held for a little longer. It seemed like the person talking was cut off a little too soon, but it is hardly noticeable. That is all I can find in the flaws of this movie. This is close to a perfect movie.

Final Verdict

This is one of my favorite movies of all time. The clean direction, focused story, brilliant writing, and fascinating characters make this one of the best movies I have ever seen. Some people may find it a bit talky, but not me. The time went by so fast, I didn’t even realize the movie was coming to an end until it was over. I cannot recommend this movie enough. If you want something quiet, (we all need that, even from good special effects action pictures), then My Dinner With Andre is for you. A grand slam of a winner.

Photo courtesy of: http://inpraiseofcinema.com/2016/02/talking-about-my-dinner-with-andre/

My grade: 4 stars!

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