I was eager to see The Dinner after being intrigued by the novel of the same name by Dutch author Herman Koch. I can save you the scroll down: this story is best told on the page. It doesn’t translate well onto the screen.
Koch is infamous for his awful protagonists and Paul Lohman (Steve Coogan) is certainly one of them. He and his wife Claire (Laura Linney) reluctantly go out to dinner at the city’s most exclusive restaurant with his brother Stan (Richard Gere) and his new wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall).
During the extravagant courses, it is discovered that Stan, a popular congressman running for governor, and Paul, a former history teacher suffering from mental illness, are estranged but get reunited when their 16 year old sons commit a horrific crime. As the country reels from the horror of the crime, the boys have yet to be discovered, and the families come together to determine what to do next.
The storyline is clunky and confusing, though perhaps the oddest part is the choice in sound design. Narration, music and dialogue often layer over the top of one another, making it hard to figure out exactly what is going on. The third act also deviates dramatically from the book, desperately trying to pin the misdeeds on one lone character, rather than the four characters all unmasked as unlikable, selfish humans.
I feel like it was also an unnecessary choice to switch the setting from the Netherlands to America. The story suits itself to moody Nordic noir far better than entitled American privilege.
The verdict: You’re better off ordering a pizza and staying in.