THE DINNER Cert 15 Running time 120 minutes Stars 1

There’s thin pickings to be had as Steve Coogan and Richard Gere play chalk and cheese brothers in this tedious and hard to swallow family drama.

The estranged siblings and their wives meet in an exclusive restaurant for dinner. Each couple have a teenage son and what feeble tension exists is generated from their talking turkey about a jam the youngsters are in and how to save their bacon.

It’s based on a novel by Dutch writer Herman Koch and has been turned it into an insular, stagey, dull and muddled affair. A long evening sees laboured observations served up about the fractured nature of US society.

So it’s surprising half the major roles are given to English actors. Coogan has a convincing if distracting American accent as Paul, the younger brother. He’s an ex-high school history teacher with psychiatric issues.

Best known for his comedy, the actor’s most recent success was in TV restaurant review show, The Trip. It’s a big shame co-star Rob Brydon doesn’t pop by to lighten the mood.

Gere plays Paul’s smoother, more successful sibling, Stan, who’s campaign to be elected state Governor is in a pickle.

His trophy second wife Katelyn is played by Brit actress Rebecca Hall, and Laura Linney is Claire, Paul’s wife. Neither have much to do until dessert when custody becomes an issue.

With salty performances full of anger, bitterness, jealousy and loathing, it’s a shame the pretentious script warranted the actors involved. Instead their considerable talent is squandered playing a quartet of insufferable over-privileged narcissists.

I felt as if I was intruding on an unknown family’s private argument, and I soon wished I’d followed my first impulse and discretely shuffled out backwards.

Without a twist in the plot there’s no meat to sink your teeth into, making for a gruelling watch which won’t have you asking for more.



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