September 2021 update – I have re-watched this a couple of times at least since I initially wrote the below snippet in 2007. It still all stands but the grade cannot be a B+. This is a masterpiece and takes on new meanings and provides new perspectives every time (and the older I get) I see it. After seeing it again a couple of weeks ago, it’s bumped to an A+.
I started watching this movie because I heard a lot about it and could not figure out what could be so interesting about two guys chatting over a fancy dinner for two hours. I mean couldn’t this just as easily be a radio play about a simple philosophical discussion? About 20 minutes into it it was clear that, nope, this cannot be. The topic of discussion and the characters are interesting, but that alone is not the subject of this film. It’s the mood they create, their facial expressions and the way they deliver their convictions. Even the surly waiter and his mannerisms are memorable. In simple films like that I think it is important to read up some details afterwards. Was the dinner in a real restaurant? Was it in real time? Is it all scripted? No, this was a studio. No, it took over three months to film the dinner with Malle directing down to the millimeter the camera angles and lighting. Yes, the whole thing is scripted. It is that last point that makes the delivery even more intriguing. For one who does not know, the delivery is so perfect that it seems the actors are not spouting a rehearsed script, but simply chatting over a fine meal. That to me is the point if this unique film.
3 thoughts on “My Dinner With Andre (Louis Malle – 1981) A+”
Elie: This is one of my favorite movies (5 star at Netflix)! From what I understand, the script was based on a series of conversations between Shawn and Gregory. The British director, Mike Leigh works similarly if in purely fictional projects when he gathers his actors together long before shooting and writes dialogue only after the cast has fleshed out their characters, and through improvisation, developed a full-fledged plot from the ideas Leigh throws their way.
That the pair (Wally Shawn & André Gregory) manage to come across as spontaneous on film attests to their power as actors. I loved the movie when it was first released and was charmed this many years later, now that it is available on DVD.
This one is certainly on my list to watch again. Thanks for the interesting info on Leigh.
Pingback: Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami – 2010) A « Oven-Dried Tomatoes