The Dinner Review

The Dinner
The night before the Senate votes on his bill, politician Stan Lohman (Gere) has decided not to whip up support. Instead, he’s called a family dinner because he has something discuss. But what could be so important that he’d risk his political future for it?

by Jonathan Pile |
Published on
Release Date:

08 Dec 2017

Running Time:

120 minutes



Original Title:

The Dinner

Steve Coogan clearly has a thing for fine dining. After three series of The Trip, here he is again, sitting at a table while a waiter talks him through his food. Although this time, there are fewer Michael Caine impressions.

Coogan is Paul Lohman, a man who suffers from mental health problems. He’s one of four guests at a mysteriously staged dinner called by his politician brother, Stan (Gere). Also present are Claire (Linney) and Katelyn (Hall), the brothers’ respective wives. They’re there for a reason — they have momentous things to discuss.

The four rarely stay in their seats long enough to begin

Exactly what those momentous things are is initially a secret (to us at least). It’s revealed slowly via flashbacks, but it concerns the two couples’ children. The set-up is immaculate — it suggests a thrilling war of words, with tensions rising as the group try to keep up appearances to fellow diners. Sadly, the film fails almost entirely on this promise. The four rarely stay in their seats long enough to begin their discussion, so any and all conversations of note actually take place in private. And the flashbacks, both to the event that’s brought them together, and then also to various points in the four main characters’ lives serve mostly to dissipate any momentum the dinner scenes have — one baffling interlude to a trip Paul and Stan took to an American Civil War battlefield particularly standing out.

When, finally, we get to the conversation they were brought together to have, there’s barely any running time left, so the moral implications of what’s occurred (and then what the group are going to do next) aren’t given anything like the required deliberation. But even if they were, it’s unlikely the film would have been saved – The Dinner was already ruined.

What promised so much, delivers so little thanks to a script that too often veers from the point. A missed opportunity.
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