Dinner with Friends
Dinner with Friends, originally released on HBO in 2001, was directed by Norman Jewison. The film is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Donald Margulies. Starring in the film are Dennis Quaid (Gabe), Andie MacDowell (Karen), Greg Kinnear (Tom), and Toni Collette (Beth).
As with many past weekends, Gabe and Karen have invited Tom and Beth over for dinner, as they simply love to try out new recipes on their friends. Each couple has been married for over twelve years and enjoy getting together to share food and friendship. However, this night, Beth comes over alone and, in tears, tells them that Tom has left her for another woman and wants a divorce. Now this revelation will force the two couples to evaluate their marriages, friendships, and the meaning of divorce.
Dinner with Friends is filled with phenomenal talent, so I really expected a movie better than what I got. The movie feels like a soap opera throughout, both in the way many of the characters are portrayed and their mannerisms. While the movie was initially fairly interesting, towards the end, and the ending itself, were disappointing and rather dull. I had a hard time believing Gabe and Karen could actually stay married for twelve years and that Tom and Beth would get married in the first place, as they are completely different. Fortunately, Kinnear was the saving grace for me, as his character is both complex and rather funny.
Dinner with Friends is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The transfer is clean throughout, with only some minor specks and some light grain popping up infrequently. Colors are natural throughout, flesh tones are accurate, and blacks are rich and detailed.
Dinner with Friends is presented in Dolby 2.0 Surround in English and Dolby 2.0 Stereo in Spanish. The film is almost entirely dialogue driven, and as such, there's not much going on other than that. Background noises, such as the rainstorm early on, and the film's score both sound great. Dialogue throughout is clean with no distortion. Optional subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
The main extra here is an audio commentary with Jewison. He talks about the play's adaptation to film, production, and actors, as well as differences between filming movies for the big and small screen. Unfortunately, there are quite a few pauses in the track and I really didn't find it that compelling of a listen. Other extras include six cast and crew biographies.
Though the MSRP is probably a bit too high, HBO has delivered an above average presentation for Dinner with Friends. The film is worth a rental for fans of the leads, though I don't recommend a blind purchase. Rent it.