on 9 July 2016
‘Dinner with Friends’ is apparently based on a play of the same name, which makes a great deal of sense in retrospect. It was originally made for TV, back in 2001. There are only four significant characters, which is quite unusual in a film. Karen (Andie MacDowell) and Gabe (Dennis Quaid) are the main pair. They’ve been married for about twelve years, and work together as food photographers and reporters. They have recently returned from a trip abroad, and we meet them when they, and their young sons, are expecting their closest friends to dinner.
Beth (Toni Collette) arrives in pouring rain, along with her two children, but her husband Tom (Greg Kinnear) is not with her. She makes an excuse but it’s clear that there’s a serious problem....
The first half hour or so was really quite depressing. But as it progressed, I found myself caught up in the lives of these two couples. It’s an exploration of character and relationships, and I found it to be realistic, on the whole. The chemistry between Karen and Gabe works well; Tom is good too, although we found Beth's main scenes a bit unbelievable. I didn’t find any of it humorous, though there were odd mildly amusing moments, mostly connected with the children who did well in brief scenes that added to the realism of the scenarios.
I didn’t like the amount of bad language, which is probably what gives this a 15 rating in the UK, and R in the United States. There’s a fair amount of discussion about sexual issues too, which would also make this unsuitable for children or younger teens, but there’s nothing explicit, nor any nudity, and the one mildly violent scene is not particularly disturbing. I can’t imagine that the content would be of interest to anyone younger than about twenty or so anyway.
Four stars, overall, as the ending was encouraging.