My Dinner with André (1981)

Original Title : My Dinner with Andre
Director : Louis Malle
Writer : Andre Gregory
Wallace Shawn
Genre : Drama
Country : USA
Producer : Dave Franke, George W. George, Beverly Karp, Keith W. Rouse
Music : Allen Shawn
Photography : Jeri Sopanen
Distributor : Cinegate Ltd., Fox Lorber Home Video, Momentum Pictures, New Yorker Films
IMDB ID : 0082783
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poster for "My Dinner with André" by Louis Malle (1981)
My Dinner with André (1981) - Louis Malle


Wallace Shawn Wally Shawn
Andre Gregory Andre Gregory
Jean Lenauer Waiter
Roy Butler Bartender


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.


Former Broadway writer and now actor, whenever he can find work, Wally Shawn was very apprehensive at the news of his friend Avant-Grade director Andre Gregory inviting him for dinner that evening at a swanky upper East-Side restaurant to talk over old times. It was Andre who gave Wally his first big break on Broadway by directing a play that he wrote. Times of late have not been kind to the two with Wally not finding anyone to accept his plays or give him work as an actor and Andre now going through a serious and almost suicidal depression. Andre dropped out of sight altogether in his own personal journey of self-discovery in his attempt in trying to find out what life is all about. In his five year journey Andre came to the conclusion that the world's a giant stage and we all are given parts, like actors and actresses, to play on it. In the end were to be judged how good or bad we were by how we preformed the parts that we were given. At first you don't know what to make of the movie "My Dinner with Andre". The two friends just chit-chat about mundane things like latest plays opening on Broadway and what to order for dinner, roast quail with wild rice a bowl of steaming hot potato soup and a fish pate appetizer. But as they being bringing out their innermost thought about themselves and those close to them, between gulps of wine and soup, the movie takes on a whole new and different flavor. In that the audience becomes not just an observer but a vital part of their conversation.We, and Wally, learn from Andre that his wanting to find himself and his reason for living had lead him over the last few years to travel to a number of exotic and far flung places that opened his eyes to a world he never knew existed! From an unknown and almost mystical Polish forest to the hot and burning sands of the vast Sahara Desert and a sub-freezing and almost impassable Tibetan mountain wilderness. With Andre finally ending up in this quaint and magical little Scottish commune town called Findhorn.Over these five years Andre says that he had a whole new emotional and educational experience that he wants to share with his friend Wally. But only in his own down beat way of telling it. This gets so hung up with the futility of life that Andre in effect turns off, instead of turning on, Wally to his new found insights. It's when both Andre and Wally begin to exchange opinions later in the movie, Andre did most of the talking during the first half, that the two make contact with each other and draw the audience into their conversation. Very esoteric at times but never at all boring or confusing "My Dinner with Andre" is a two hour talk between two friends about a whole list of subjects. Their conversation keeps you glued, and listening, to the screen about how were losing our souls and identities to a both modern and indifferent, to the individual, world.In the end both Wally and Andre even though they have different opinions on how man can find his way back to nature, as well as recovering his long lost sense of reality. Both Andre and Wally agree that opening up one's mind by letting out what one feels deep down inside of him, or her, and not being afraid or embarrassed in doing it is the bases of man going forward and improving the broken society that we all now, in the 1980's, lives in.The two diners, Andre & Wally, philosophical sparring on issues like life and death and what existence is all about gets a bit redundant at times in them trying to find fault in on how valid or false they are. But as they each get to see how their views on the many different subjects they discuss start to coincide with each other they, and we that are watching, realize that their on the same wavelength.The two end their dinner not just quenching their appetites but their minds as well by exchanging ideas and opinions and coming to an incisive and thought-provoking conclusion about almost everything there is to know about themselves and those around them. The very interesting film ends on an optimistic note as a now less skeptical and far more optimistic Wally says it, on a cab ride back home as the movie ends, from from what he learned from "My Dinner with Andre".