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The Dinner Game

The Dinner Game
Rialto Cinema
Cnr Jervois Quay and Cable St

In The Dinner Game a group of yuppie males amuse themselves once a week by each inviting an idiot to dinner. This time their private joke backfires, leaving them at the mercy of their chosen fool.

The sport in this case is Francois Pignon (Jacques Villerets), divorcee, bachelor, tax inspector and maker of matchstick replicas of famous landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower - 'How many tubes of glue do you think, huh?' On the eve of dinner his host Brochont (Thierry Lhermite) puts his back out. Unable to phone Pignon in time Brochont finds himself couch bound and trapped in his apartment with his newly arrived fool. As chance would have it, this is the night his wife decides to leave him.

Seizing the opportunity to be of service, Pignon phones Brochont's mistress, his best friend whose girlfriend he stole and even a fellow tax inspector with a bloodhounds nose for tax dodgers, all in the attempt to get Brochont his wife back. Pignon's ludicrous attempts to fix the situation sends everything from bad to worse and Pignon and Brochont's fate become inextricably entwined.

The Dinner Game is amiable and amusing, albeit without the resounding high comedy pratfalls of classic farce. With Brochont's fate teetering between good fortune and disaster, the stage version (from which the film is drawn) must have thrived on the sense of near-exits and entrances. Not for the first time in a stage to screen adaption the film doesn't capture the same sense of physical energy or comedy, but Jacques Villerets performance as Pignon is the film.

As a wife cheating rich-boy jerk Brochant ought to be easy to dislike but beyond the opening scenes he is not particularly offensive nor offended, and we don't really have a stake in his downfall. Pignon however, makes for a pretty good moron, particularly when simple communication passes him by like a summer breeze - 'His name is Just. Just..?-Just! Just..???" Of course, when Pignon finally prepares to leave, Brochont suddenly realises he desperately needs him to make just one more phone call ...

While there aren't too many surprises, The Dinner Game is good fun and bound to be a popular long player.


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