Criterion Sunday 479: My Dinner with Andre (1981)

I’m not sure this film should really work: it’s just two men at a restaurant talking to one another. Wallace Shawn is seen going to meet an old friend, uncertain if he wants to, and intending to rely on just asking him about his life to keep him interested. Theatre director André Gregory, meanwhile, barely seems to need an interlocutor, as he spins stories about his travels almost endlessly, drops pearls of wisdom and generally confounds Shawn, an audience surrogate one assumes, with his quizzical looks and sputtering incredulity at André’s high-minded spiritual quest and new age-y ideas. It shouldn’t work, this extended dialogue, certainly it shouldn’t work as cinema, but it does just about. Some will find it boring or aggravating, the prattle of self-satisfied bloviating intellectuals, and I certainly don’t find it to be transportingly epiphanic as some others do, but the conversation flows like the wine and there are times when it even touches on something profound. It may be like a podcast avant la lettre, but this film of two men talking has its moments.


FILM REVIEW: Criterion Collection
Director Louis Malle; Writers André Gregory and Wallace Shawn; Cinematographer Jeri Sopanen; Starring André Gregory, Wallace Shawn; Length 111 minutes.

Seen at home (Blu-ray), Wellington, Sunday 14 November 2021.