The Name of the Game is Talking Heads

My Dinner with Andre: written by Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory; directed by Louis Malle; starring Wallace Shawn (Wallace Shawn) and Andre Gregory (Andre Gregory) (1981): Legendary and dazzling in its simple premise: two characters talking at a table for nearly two hours. And the conversation itself carries the film, bizarre and far-ranging and probing the nature of reality.

Both Shawn and Gregory have repeatedly noted over the years that the characters aren’t them, but are characters based on them, and one wishes that Shawn’s suggestion that the next time around they switch roles might some day be implemented. The film’s play with reality extends to the restaurant itself, which wasn’t a real restaurant, though it looks convincing enough; the interiors weren’t even filmed in New York, where the movie is set.

You may find, as I did, that the film works especially well in two or three doses over two or three nights. There’s a lot to digest here, strange ideas and strange comedy. Memorably homaged many times, perhaps most effectively in an episode of Community. Highly recommended.

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