VisionaireWorld Covers Tribeca Film Festival 2017: The Dinner

     Based on Herman Koch’s international bestselling novel, Oren Moverman’s The Dinner is a dark psychological thriller about a fierce showdown between two couples during the course of an ornately prepared meal at a fancy restaurant. When Stan Lohman (Richard Gere), a popular congressman running for governor, invites his troubled younger brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and his wife Claire (Laura Linney) to join him and his wife Katelyn (Rebecca Hall) for dinner at one of the town’s most fashionable restaurants, the stage is set for a tense night. While Stan and Paul have been estranged since childhood, their 16-year- old sons are friends, and the two of them have committed a horrible crime that has shocked the country. While their sons’ identities have not yet been discovered and may never be, their parents must now decide what action to take. As the night proceeds, beliefs about the true natures of the four people at the table are upended, relationships shatter, and each person reveals just how far they are willing to go to protect those they love. Filled with many shocking twists and turns, The Dinner is a chilling parable about the savage reality hidden beneath the surface of middle class lives. In an interview with his press team for The Dinner’s upcoming release, Academy Award nominated writer/director Oren Moverman (The Messenger) talks about his new film that makes its American debut at the Tribeca Film Festival, having premiered at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival in competition.  Adapted from the best-selling 2009 novel by Herman Koch — that was adapted in over 50 countries — this psychological thriller got shifted from its native Holland setting re-worked into an American context.  Moverman notes, “It wasn’t just a question of adjusting the physical world of the location, but also the emotional world and the metaphors that the book was dealing with, and to try to find analogous things here.”   With his top-tier ensemble including Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Laura Linney, and Chloe Sevigny, Moverman makes dynamic connections with a taut story, as he opens up a psychological thriller to look beneath the surface of a bomb-ticking family gathering. Text contributed by: Lisa Collins

On The Dinner’s premise: OREN MOVERMAN:  “It poses an impossible question … What would you do if your children have committed a horrible crime? How far would you go to protect them?”

On the role of food, and the little eating that goes on:

OM:   “The food is ridiculous and that’s the point … These people’s worlds are falling apart but they’re being presented Pumpernickel Soil. The courses are actually the narrative courses of the story being told.”

On looking beyond the obvious with these on-the-edge characters:

OM:   “The characters all seem to be one thing in the beginning, but throughout the night, you realize they aren’t exactly who you thought they were … Throughout the story, everybody has been hiding something. Eventually you land at a place where there’s nothing hidden anymore and everything is exposed.”

On the squaring off of two couples, bound by a moral dilemma — and their son’s criminal act:

OM:  “They feel pressed against the wall and feel they have to defend what’s theirs, preserve their status quo, their position in life … They’ll say anything and believe in it in the moment. It’s shocking and awful, but this is what we often do. We sometimes dehumanize other people in order to preserve what we want for ourselves. It’s an awful human trait, but it’s a very real one.”

On plotting-out the film’s shifting nature:

OM:    “There’s a strategy to the storytelling that is not straightforward” … “I wanted the film, like Paul [Coogan’s character], to — in a way — have its own mental health issues, its own tangents, its own difficulties in keeping the complexities of family relationships in focus.”

On working with cameraman Bobby Bukowski to create a visual style:

OM:   “The blending of all them (three primary visual styles: one for the restaurant; a second for the crime; and a third for the family history) was going to add up to the experience of sort of trying to understand and get closer to these characters … There’s a scene when they walk into the ATM that starts off in this very kind of warm color … And then as they walk in it changes into a much colder, much less forgiving treatment. The extreme nature of the act of the crime is reflected in the instability of the color … The family history (scenes involving the past) is mostly done in a blown-out way where it’s dominated by a by a little bit of green and over-exposed harshness that sometimes memories exist in—sort of hazy, unreliable images.”

On the novel “The Dinner” being published in 2009, yet still being relevant to the current political landscape:

OM:   “The phenomenon of our era is that we live in a post-humanist society,” says Moverman. “There’s a real reluctance to acknowledge the humanity of people who are not in your tribe. So many people are only acting out of their perceived self-interest and it’s very hard for them to recognize other people’s suffering or points of view.

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