The Dinner is a Dark and Twisty Suspense


Release Date: May 5, 2017
Running Time: 2 hours
Rated R
Grade: C+

How Far Would You Go To Protect Your Children?

The Dinner premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in February and opens May 5 in select theaters. Based on Herman Koch’s bestselling Dutch novel, The Dinner is a dark and twisty suspense set in a fancy restaurant that caters to the rich and famous in an upscale suburb of Washington D. C.

The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Oren Moverman, who was nominated for his original screenplay of The Messenger (2009).  It stars the dashing Golden Globe Winner Richard Gere as Congressman Steve Lohman and Steve Coogan (Philomena) as his brother Paul. They are supported by Laura Linney as Steve’s wife Claire and Rebecca Hall as Paul’s wife Kate.

Although Gere is the biggest name attached to the film, it is Coogan’s character Paul who carries the film with the most screen time. Paul suffers from some type of mental disability or post-traumatic stress disorder and rarely goes out of the house.  He is a former history teacher with an obsessive compulsive disorder along with other phobias.  His brother Steve is a well-liked congressman with plans to run for governor.

The first major scene is a discussion between Paul and Kate about going to the “dinner”.  Paul does not want to leave the house and he for sure hates to spend it in a fancy restaurant with his estranged brother. Kate tells him not to worry, that Steve will pick up the tab. Before they leave for dinner, Paul visits his 16 year old son Michael’s room and picks up his cell phone.  His son catches him and wants to know what he was doing in there.  Paul seems very timid and almost afraid of his son.

Meanwhile, Congressman Steve Coogan, his wife Claire along with his staffer Nina are traveling to the restaurant.  The tension between Steve and Claire is palpable as they sit  silently next to each other in the car. Something is going on and we wonder what it is.

Gere gives a strong performance as the confident politician. For those that need a little reminder, he won a Golden Globe for Chicago (2002) and was nominated for Golden Globes for Arbitrage (2012), Pretty Woman (1990), and An Officer and a Gentleman (1982),

Over many courses and interruptions by Steve’s staffer, the dinner continues.  Director Moverman makes a point to have Dylan, the restaurant manager (Michael Chernus of Captain Phillips) describe every course in detail.  Paul is very impatient.  He does not want to listen to Dylan and is very rude to him and the staff.  At one point he leaves the restaurant.

Throughout the film, Paul is a narrator and takes you back to episodes in the classroom and a visit to Gettysburg with Steve.  We never really learn what is wrong with him, but it has something to do with Kate surviving cancer when Michael was a young boy.

There is more to the dinner than just two brothers and their wives catching up.  The emotionally charged evening continues, despite the interruptions and outbursts.  For the two couples and the staff, it was far from an enjoyable evening.  Tension builds as they all continue to avoid talking about some big secret involving their sons.  That all changes after Michael appears in the restaurant parking lot and confronts Paul about taking his cell phone.

Prior to the evening, Steve’s sons and Paul’s son were involved in a despicable crime that shocked the country.  Their identities have not yet been discovered.  Steve thinks that they need to own up to it, while Paul will do anything to keep the secret safe.  Director Moverman does a skillful job weaving in Paul’s profound statements throughout the film.  Pay attention to the way Kate manipulates and controls him.  It plays an important part in the climax.

The thought-provoking film will have the audience asking how far they would go to protect someone they love. Would you lie for them?  Would you cover for them?  Would you teach them that they are above the law? Would you kill for them?

The Dinner is a suspenseful and riveting film. It opens on Friday, May 5 at AMC Regency.

Directed By: Oren Moverman

Richard Gere as Congressman Steve Lohman
Steve Coogan as Paul Lohman
Laura Linney as Claire Lohman
Rebecca Hall as Katelyn Lohman
Cloe Sevigny as Barbara Lohman
Charlie Plummer as Michael Lohman
Adepero Oduye as Nina
Michael Chernus as Dylan Heinz

~ Leigh Ann Rassler





About Leigh Ann Rassler