Writer/director Oren Moverman builds a dense adaptation of Howard Koch’s novel that teeters precariously between brilliant and overwrought before landing squarely on “pretty good.” The meal in question is a meeting at a fancy restaurant between congressman Stan Lohman (Richard Gere), his history-scholar brother Paul (Steve Coogan) and their respective wives (Laura Linney and Rebecca Hall) to address a potentially life-changing incident involving the teenage sons of each couple. Moverman darts back and forth in time and place to build the story’s context, effectively shifting sympathies between characters with each subsequent revelation. It’s an effectively disorienting experience, especially when combined with a magnificently multi-layered sound design and the attempt to get inside the head of someone with a mental illness. That’s merely one of the ideas in play, as the story also digs into parental anxieties and upper-class privilege—represented by the dinner’s haute-cuisine menu—all while invoking Gettysburgh as a fairly on-the-nose backdrop for brother-vs-brother conflict. Coogan’s weirdly magnetic performance keeps the narrative anchored, even as Moverman wrestles with perhaps too many themes for any one of them to land perfectly.
Director: Oren Moverman
Producer: Caldecot Chubb, Lawrence Inglee, Julia Lebedev, Eddie Vaisman, Eva Daniels, Angel Lopez and Olga Segura
Cast: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny, Charlie Plummer, Adepero Oduye, Michael Chernus, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Joel Bissonnette, Robert McKay and Laura Hajek