A bold experiment in film narrative that paid off in critical raves and cult status, Louis Malle’s drama consists almost entirely of the dinner conversation of two real-life friends. More or less playing themselves, Andre Gregory and Wallace Shawn wrote their own dialogue, which ranges in subject from the New York theatre world to rainforests, and in tone from hilarious to heartbreaking.
Starring: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory
Director: Louis Malle
Format: Full Screen, More
My dinner with Andre came out in 1981 and I may have seen the movie then but to be honest I don’t remember it, which is why this film is a perfect choice for the Seekers Guide To Great Movies! Why is it perfect? Well simply because of the reason I don’t remember it! At 19 years of age, I wasn’t quite so conscious of seeking answers to the questions asked during this film. Questions like; Where did I come from? How did I get here? Why am I here? Where am I going? And herein lies the nature of being a seeker. If you’re not asking questions about life yourself, then you’re not likely to recognize the relevance or meaning, when witnessing the questions being asked by someone else, right? So, in 1981, I might have said “what in the world are these guys talking about?” But with this movie it goes beyond not recognizing the content. At 19, what additionally would have seemed unfamiliar to me, was the way in which Andre and Wallace were communicating with one another. They were fully listening. There were no interruptions. No conflicts over disagreement resulting in a complete disintegration of the conversation! In spite of the subject matter touching on sensitive core beliefs. I don’t know about you, but that’s not the way it was in my neighborhood back then in 1981, or even now in 2004. ….In the conversation between Andre and Wallace, there is an absence of the common tendency for people in conversation to be formulating a response shortly after the other begins speaking. Once Wallace meets Andre at the restaurant, the film never leaves two of them at a table in a fine New York City restaurant. You can see it in their eyes, these men are listening to one another! The camera work is intimate and excellent beautifully revealing the presence in the eyes of these actors whose performances are superb, I’m sure due in part to the fact that Andre and Wallace wrote much of the dialog themselves!
This movie can be watched twice, from two different perspectives, each time learning something valuable to a seeker. You can watch the movie for the content of the conversation itself. Watch and listen as if you are part of that conversation, and reap the benefits gained by coming to understand another’s point of view on some meaning of life, without concern as to whether you agree or not. Or you can watch the movie for communication style, ignoring the content of the conversation. In fact turn you can turn off the sound and just witness two human beings being totally present in a conversation, coming from a place of respect with a desire to move forward through conversation, together, toward the mutual benefit of a higher understanding of each other and of themselves. It actually worth two viewings for that very reason. When you switch to watching style, you miss some compelling insights, and vice versa! Anyway, this movie is a masterpiece. Watch it and you’ll gain insights on meanings of life and come away with a heightened awareness of the infinite possibilities that lie within every conversation we have, if we only choose to listen. Aaah, the meaning of life and the infinite potential of conversation, all in one movie.
Rent, watch, enjoy, grow and don’t forget the popcorn! Thank you for subscribing to The Seekers Guide To Great Movies. I hope you enjoy reading it is much as I enjoy creating it.
Thanks again and remember, you are what you watch!