Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant…
Release Year: 1981
Rating: 7.5/10 (5,435 voted)
Stars: Andre Gregory, Wallace Shawn, Jean Lenauer
Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory, apparently playing themselves, share their lives over the course of an evening meal at a restaurant. Gregory, a theater director from New York, is the more talkative of the pair. He relates to Shawn his tales of dropping out, traveling around the world, and experiencing the variety of ways people live, such as a monk who could balance his entire weight on his fingertips. Shawn listens avidly, but questions the value of Gregory's seeming abandonment of the pragmatic aspects of life.
Writers: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory
Release Date: 11 October 1981
Filming Locations: Jefferson Hotel – 101 W. Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Opening Weekend: $5,073
(16 May 1999)
Did You Know?
Lloyd Kaufman of Troma, Inc. was production manager and his fledgling company provided support to the making of this film. This was one of his first credits.
Shortly after the main course is served, Wallace Shawn's plate disappears, then a few minutes later, it's back again.
The life of a playwright is tough. It's not easy as some people seem to think. You work hard writing plays and nobody puts them on. You take up other lines of work to make a living – I became an actor – and people don't hire you. So you just spend your days doing the errands of your trade.
Existential Paradox becomes Celluloid
MY DINNER WITH ANDRE is one of the greatest movies of all time because it
works on a seemingly infinite number of levels. Yet at the same time it is
one of the biggest failures in film because it only succeeds in connecting
to the most insightful of its audience. The resulting paradox only serves to
prove the film's lesson to be true. Brilliant!
This is either a movie you will turn off after fifteen minutes, or it is a
movie you will watch over and over again to pick up all the things you
missed in previous screenings. The former will be bored and lost by the
endless, meaningless talk. The latter will find gold in every word, and
veins left to be mined time after time.
In simple terms, the question is understood "If life is a stage, are you
going to be an actor, a director, or a playwright?" It is the viewer's
choice. Wally is a struggling playwright who has fallen back on acting.
Andre is a former actor and director who has left the theatre entirely.
Wally and Andre meet for dinner, and Andre recounts his experiences since
leaving the theatre.
But one of the ironies is that their dinner itself is theatre, and both
Andre and Wally have roles to fill. [Notice they wrote the script and use
their real names. They are not playing characters. They are necessarily
playing themselves.] And summarily the viewer also has a role to fill. If
life is a stage, viewing the theatre is in itself theatre. The viewer is
now in a place of choosing the role. And will that choice be made
mechanically or deliberately? Mechanics is acting. Deliberation is
This is a brilliant, brilliant film. One of the greatest movies of all
time. And its resolve is purely subjective to the individual viewer. The
goal is to deliberate and come away enlightened (literally). Unfortunately
the majority of viewers will act mechanically and turn it