My Dinner with Andre (1981)

Genres - Comedy Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 11, 1981 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Michael Betzold

It would be difficult to sell Hollywood producers on a movie that was nothing more than an extended conversation between two friends at a restaurant. Yet the risk-taking director Louis Malle turned this talk-fest into an art-house success. My Dinner with André is in many ways the ultimate art-house movie: low budget, highly philosophical, and demanding an intellectual audience's unstinting attention. Malle used two theater veterans, actor-playwright Wallace Shawn and director André Gregory, to play themselves, using a script based on their actual discussions. The film works surprisingly well, primarily because the two men seem to have opposite temperaments: Shawn shy and cynical, Gregory curious and adventurous. The camera rarely wanders away from the dinner table, yet the film's impact is considerable; Malle lets the audience unloosen its own imagination and thoughts, and the effect is much like listening intently to an excellent radio play. My Dinner with André is a one-of-a-kind film, and its success is unlikely to be repeated.