Tuesday, September 10, 2013

TIFF 2013: The Dinner/Het Diner (Pretty Good)

The Dinner is based on a book I had read and enjoyed by Herman Koch, about two brothers and their families. The main action takes place in a restaurant, and the brothers and their wives meet to discuss some trouble their sons have gotten into, and how to deal with it. Flashbacks are used to tell us about the trouble, and to fill in some of the characters for us. All four of the adults have their issues, and by the end of the movie there is not a sympathetic character in sight. The core of the film is quite dark, but the father whose perspective is taken for most of the film treats life as a big joke, so some humour softens the edges from time to time.

I enjoyed the movie, but (as is usually the case) not as much as the book. During the Q&A after the film, some in the audience challenged choices the director had made in adapting the novel, leaving out some key plot elements that he felt were not the strongest parts. That's understandable, but I felt the story made more sense in the book, and maintained a better sense of suspense and mystery and the pieces of the puzzle came together. In the film the plot became less important than the characters and their flaws. That's not necessarily a bad decision, but because I had read the book I was a little distracted by it.

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