Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Dinner

I've seen La Cena (=The Dinner) twice, and last time was only a week ago.  Written and directed by Ettore Scola, this Italian (Italian/French actually) 1998 movie is a delightful piece of cinematic art.  You are in a restaurant somewhere in Italy, from just before they open, until the last guests leave for the night.  Along with the camera, we circle around the restaurant, stop at the tables, peek into the kitchen and back again.  We meet Flora, the hostess, and we meet the cook and his staff, the waiters and the owner, Flora's husband who drops by to have a meal.  We get to know the guests, we listen to their conversations, discover their dramas and everyday issues, and the whole thing is seamlessly made so that we just go with the flow, believe in it, in a way that it could have been a documentary.

There is the mother-daughter constellation, the girl with too many lovers, the student and her professor boyfriend, the lonely poet and the party of teenagers.  It's a lovely movie.  The music, the atmosphere, it just feels like Italy, and I want to go there! 
I'll just mention Fanny Ardant as Flora and Marie Gillain as the young student having an affair with her married professor. For more about the cast etc, see here.

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