My Dinner with Andre (1981)

my dinner with andre poster 1981 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Rare movie where you aren't wowed by visuals or story but it is still good

Not for everyone

Movie Info

Movie Name: My Dinner with Andre

Studio:  Saga Productions Inc./The Andre Company

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): October 8, 1981 (New York Film Festival)/October 11, 1981 (US

MPAA Rating: PG

my dinner with andre wallace shaw

Crap…let’s get this meal over with…

Playwright and actor Wally (Wallace Shawn) is about to do something he feels obligated to do.  His former friend and peer Andre (Andre Gregory) has invited him to dinner and Wally feels he must attend despite recent stories of odd behavior from the now inactive director.  At a small and fancy restaurant, Wally and Andre meet for a meal and a discussion of life, purpose, and meaning.

Directed by Louis Malle, My Dinner with Andre is an experimental art house film.  Written by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, the film premiered at the New York Film Festival and became instantly embraced by critics.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #479).

My Dinner with Andre is one of those legendary art films that everyone name drops and mentions…but it seems like a lot of people haven’t actually seen it.  It was a guilty missing checkmark in my film repertoire, and I finally decided to see it.  It is different and memorable, but it definitely isn’t for everyone.

my dinner with andre meal quail

Hey…here’s the actual dinner

Largely, there is no plot.  The movie is what it is on the surface…two friends having dinner and talking.  The talk however is where the film finds its originality and direction.  You have Andre who is enlightened after a number of years of travel, and you have working class Andre trying to grind out a living as a director-actor.  While much of the movie is just Andre spouting experiences and philosophy (which to be honest isn’t easy to follow), the movie feels much more real when Wally begins to call him on his description of the “wrong path” that much of the world is taking…he calls BS essentially (but politely).

Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory claim that the characters aren’t mock-ups of themselves despite sharing their names.  Andre comes off as pretty pompous and partially (as his character even admits) is because he’s entitled.  He has the money to do all this travel and philosophizing but is judging others…but he is magnetic.  This isn’t something you can say about Wallace’s character who probably would be the guy at the party you wouldn’t be talking (but he’d also be a better person…plus, he does say “inconceivable” at one point which harkens to his The Princess Bride character).

my dinner with andre gregory wallace shaw

Pretty much you’re my captive audience, Wally…you have to listen to what I say

The movie is set in a restaurant (besides some bookend shots of Wallace arriving and leaving) and it never varies…it is amazing but it is sustainable.  The restaurant itself also seems to go against Gregory’s bohemian view of the world…it is fancy, and he can afford it (he pays for the meal).  Wally indicates he never goes to restaurants like this (and it is obvious that he can’t normally afford it).

My Dinner with Andre isn’t a movie that you can expect to watch and understand, but it is a movie you can watch and debate.  This is true for a lot of art house films and that is the best part of their nature.  The movie probably is a movie that can change for viewers over time…maybe once you’d side with Andre and the next time Wallace.  It also changes with time and ideas.  It is worth a visit…so pull up a chair and enjoy a meal.  Malle, Shawn, and Gregory reunited in 1994 for Vanya on 42nd Street.

Related Links:

Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response