"Two estranged brothers and their wives meet at a restaurant to discuss a dark crime committed by their sons. With their involvement still a secret, they must decide how far they’ll go to protect the ones they love. Based on the international best seller of the same name, The Dinner, is a dark pyshological thiller about how far parents will go to protect their children. Written and directed by Oscar® nominee Oren Moverman (2009, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, The Messenger), The Dinner Blu-ray and DVD include audio commentary with Moverman and Laura Linney and a photo gallery." That is the official description for The Dinner, now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD from Lionsgate, which has provided NewTechReview with a NFR copy for review.
If you haven't read the book (or maybe even if you have), you'll more than likely be confused by the chaotic introduction to The Dinner. We're first treated to a loud party scene, which is later revealed to be part of an upcoming dinner conversation. Then we're abruptly introduced to Paul, who seems to be either thinking to himself or narrating. After that we see Paul and Claire (Paul's wife) having a conversation about going out to dinner. At first, we don't know with whom their dining, but it's later revealed to be a dinner with Paul's brother Stan and his wife Katelyn.
Unfortunately, even after the introduction, the confusion continues. Stan has brought the two couples together to discuss an important family matter, which by the end of the film never gets resolved. Although, to be fair, the family matter isn't really the point of the film. The plot is really about these four people and their personalities. If you're able to follow along, you might find it interesting, but the way the film is presented (with scenes cutting between the dinner and flashbacks), you're likely to become frustrated.
The Blu-ray edition of The Dinner is presented as an MPEG-4 AVC encode with an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The picture provides a traditional film look with a variety of grading techniques to successfully separate the variety of scenes shown: dinner, party, and flashbacks. The detail and colors work very well to establish mood. For sound, we're provided with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track the presents a nicely detailed ambience to each of the scenes. The music is blended in nicely to the background and most of the dialogue is clear, but it can be a bit soft at times.
There are two bonus features included in The Dinner. Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Owen Moverman and Actress Laura Linney is in some ways more interesting than the film itself. Linney provides a lot of insight into the characters and about the story. She and Moverman also discuss similarties to the book. In addition, there is a Photo Gallery with a collection of stills from the film.
It just goes to show that even if a film is based on a international best-selling book, it doesn't mean the story will translate well to the screen. While the performances by Gere, Linney, Coogan, and Hall are excellent, the way the film is presented leaves a lot to be desired.
For more information, visit:
* Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fUO30n
* Website: lionsgate.com