the 1980s, Wallace Shawn, a writer and playwright, is forced
to attend a dinner with André Gregory, a burned-out theatre
director. Except for a few minutes at both the beginning and
end of this film "action" all takes place at the
dinner table; we get to eavesdrop on their entire
conversation. André talks about his journeys to exotic
locations, and amidst these stories we also get to observe
an entire meal.
get to see Gregory and Shawn read and select from the menus
and also the various courses as they are served. The best food
moment in this film is when the quail is served; it looks
delicious but the serving is quite small. This causes the
diner to make the remark, "I didn't realize how small
they are." The focus of this film is the conversation,
not the food. Considering that almost the entire film occurs
at the dinner table it is worthy of being considered a food
film. However very little screen time is devoted to the food,
which is very rarely shown at a good angle and is anything
but spectacular, paling in comparison even to the dishes
in SOUL FOOD. Also, a film that is an endless
conversation between two men can at times be difficult to sit
through for a mere glimpse of quail.
this classic "imaginary conversation" between friends Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory,
Wallace establishes his plebian but wonderfully naturalistic
voice early on when he steers away from the epicene appetizers
and goes for the Czech peasant soup:
...And then, to begin with, a terrine de poisson.
WALLACE: What is that?
ANDRE: It's, uh, a pâté, light, made of fish.
WALLACE: Does it have bones in it?
ANDRE: No bones.
WALLACE: Well, um, what is the, uh, bramborová polévka?
WAITER: It's a potato soup. It's quite delicious.
WALLACE: Oh. Well, great. I'll have that.