I would have never expected this film would bore me so much. I was looking forward to see it for so long! Isn't it ironic that the guy, for whom having a dinner in a deadly expensive restaurant is just a trifle, has so much to say about spirituality and finding 'self' in the 'spoilt Western world'? And then the film obviously makes fun of Wally, a soulless materialist. Nooo, thank you very much for this attempt!
I mean you give it a great rating for pure ambition alone even though almost everything that is said about it in the negative is true, boring (at times), over indulgent, pretentious....but man did ever speak to things and represent conversations I have had. I respect the hell out of it
Roger Ebert wrote that this is a film that is devoid of cliché, and I'd have to agree. I felt like taking notes while watching, and I think the fact that Shawn and Gregory are basically playing themselves added sincerity. The whole film consists of a conversation, but you're engaged right from the start. Really terrific film, I haven't seen anything like this.
Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory practically play themselves in the film. But what makes the film unique is that it relies not so much on visual imagery as it does minimalism, rather the film expresses what the art of conversation is. It is one of the most original aspects of storytelling; they expect and allow us, the audience, to conceptualize what they have to say.
The exterior-set bookends are cool-they fold the dinner into the rest of a man's life, creating the sense of revelation that will degrade with time and that, as compensation, will be embalmed, turned into part of a narrative. But the dinner itself...maybe I'm wrong, but I seem to recall having more profound conversations with friends when I was baked as a teenager. Better as a formal idea than an experience.
"You see, I keep thinking that what we need is a new language - a language of the heart. (...) Some kind of language between people that is a new kind of poetry. (...) And I think that in order to create that language you're going to have to learn how you can go through a looking glass into another kind of perception, where you have that sense of being united to all things and suddenly you understand everything."
Two New York intellectuals chew the cud but it's Shawn who does most of the listening as he dines out with Gregory and learns of his old friend's strange recent life experiences. Malle's film is undoubtedly daring and unique with moments of real insight, humour and drama. Having said that, it's not really my kind of thing and I admired it a lot more than I liked it. Still, this is minimalist cinema with a vengeance..