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My Dinner With André
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In Louis Malle’s captivating and philosophical My Dinner with André, actor and playwright Wallace Shawn sits down with friend and theater director André Gregory at an Manhattan restaurant, and the two proceed into an alternately whimsical and despairing confessional on love, death, money, and all the superstition in between. Playing variations on their own New York–honed personas, Shawn and Gregory, who also wrote the screenplay, dive in with introspective, intellectual gusto, and Malle captures it all with a delicate, artful detachment. A fascinating freeze-frame of cosmopolitan culture, My Dinner with André remains a unique work in cinema history
The sheer audacity of My Dinner with Andre drew throngs of curious filmgoers who made the film the most talked-about art-house hit of 1981. After all, who'd ever heard of a movie consisting of nearly two hours of nonstop dinner conversation? Ah ... but this isn't just any conversation--it's the kind of mesmerizing, soul-searching, life-affirming exploration that we feel privileged to listen to, and with unobtrusive style, director Louis Malle invites us to eavesdrop to our hearts' and minds' content. The film was written by two New Yorkers at the dinner table, noted playwright-actor Wallace Shawn and well-known stage director Andre Gregory, who essentially play themselves. They taped their conversations for several weeks and Shawn gradually shaped them into a scripted conversation, but you'd never know it by watching the movie. The talk flows and flows until you're captivated by Gregory's stories of world travel and spiritual quests in Poland, India, Tibet, the Sahara desert ... the tales of a soul-searcher who'd dropped out of the theater world to rediscover his zest for living. Shawn plays the skeptic, the voice of reason, his feet on the ground but his own mind willing to soar. The cumulative effect of this conversation is almost hypnotic, and certainly plays into our eternal appetite for storytelling. Both primal and sophisticated, witty and profound, My Dinner With Andre is a film that can be savored over time, offering new revelations with each viewing as the listener-viewer develops his or her own appreciation of life's great mysteries. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
There are no character names; there is no 'plot;' Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, both prominent actors/playwrights of New York, meet after not having seen each other for years and they shoot the breeze. I learned that it's not as extemporaneous as I originally had imagined - Shawn and Gregory got together, recorded hours of their conversations, and then compiled a script based on them. The 'restaurant' is actually a defunct hotel, the waiters and barkeepers all actors. But there's a transcendence to it all, as the men sit and chat (mostly the powerful, lively Andre Gregory doing the talking), food being brought out to them.
What heightens the power of the film is the setup that Wallace gives in the voice-over before their dinner: Andre, the man he meets, has been living a peculiar existence traveling all over the world, when he used to never want to leave his family. A friend of Wallace's saw Andre weeks before sobbing uncontrollably on the street because he was violently moved by a line in Bergman's Autumn Sonata. Like Wallace, we don't know what to expect in the very context of the dinner conversation.Read more ›
The film opens with shots of Wally traveling across New York City to meet Andre for dinner. Wally is a meek and nervous playwright who spends his days performing the errands of the playwright who hasn't yet had a success. He has a girlfriend and worries about paying his bills. Andre is a former colleague and close friend of Wally's. Once a successful theater director, Andre all but disappeared from the country and the two haven't seen each other for years. Stories have been circulating about Andre's recent strange behaviour and emotional instability. A friend insists that Wally meet with Andre, who was discovered weeping against a wall after viewing an Ingmar Bergman movie. "He had been seized by a fit of ungovernable crying," Wally explains, "when the character played by Ingrid Bergman had said, 'I could always live in my art, but never in my life.'"
Andre appears excited and refreshed as the two men sit down to dinner in a fancy restaurant. After pleasantries are exchanged, he begins to tell Wally stories about his travels to Tibet, northern Scotland and the Sahara, relating his strange experiences abroad while Wally sits in awe, never quite knowing what to add.Read more ›
Having the audience imagine, in their own ways, what these venues might look like is so contrary to what we get so often in American movies today. We typically get in your-face visuals and glitzy special effects (e.g., "Lord of the Rings) that allows no room for viewer imagination: its all artificially provided for you. Such films leave me, to use Gregory's words, "passive and impotent."
"My Dinner with Andre" respects its audience by reminding us what it is to be truly human. Having conversations as portrayed in this film is my ideal evening out with a good friend(s).
I can't recommend this movie enough.
Most recent customer reviews
You would not think that a movie where 90% takes place talking in a restaurant would be worth the watch; but this one is. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Steve Vowles
Very happy with this product. One of my favourite movies and would recommend it to everyone who appreciates something quirky and different.Published on June 16 2013 by beverly j bingham
Bought this a present, the DVD edition was amazing, delivered fast and it's a great film, highly recommend it if you like the subtle quirky filmsPublished on Jan. 6 2012 by Ol blue eyes
I have not seen this DVD so my review pertains only to the movie itself.
This is one of my favorite films of all time. Read more
Full Screen. Does that say full screen? What is the point of a DVD if not to deliver the full quality of the original print. Read morePublished on April 5 2004
Give it a try: you'll either giveup in 15 minutes; or would get hooked to it. Like a evening breeze of a warm day, let the movie conversation flow easily. Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2004 by Sandeep Gupta
I will someday have to watch this film on DVD or video, but in the meantime I have read or reread the screenplay three times. Read morePublished on Jan. 31 2004 by TheodoreStreet
yeah, the rating is for the DVD video transfer - *not* the movie itself.
you've gotta be a sap to actually purchase this DVD. Read more
Two men who haven't met for a long while sit down and talk--about life. One, Wally, starts the conversation with a thoughtless, "You look great! Read morePublished on Jan. 15 2004 by Craig Chalquist, PhD, author of TERRAPSYCHOLOGY and DEEP CALIFORNIA