Richard Gere, Steve Coogan and Laura Linney are here today at the Berlin Film Festival for the competition world premiere of Oren Moverman’s The Dinner. Gere plays a politician in the four-hander thriller that’s based on the Herman Koch novel. Inevitably this morning, the press conference conversation turned to real-life politics.
Gere was asked if he were to host a dinner with four people and one of the other guests was Donald Trump, who else would he invite. The fast response, “I wouldn’t be at that dinner.”
In answering another question about the isolation people are facing in today’s world, and the suggestion that film can help to build bridges rather than walls, Gere, a noted human rights activist, expounded:
“The number of hate crimes went up enormously as soon as Donald Trump started running for president, in the United States and in Europe… Unfortunately, we have leaders that stimulate fear, and that fear causes us to do really terrible things. I think that’s part of what we’re talking about in the film. We have to be really careful how we talk to each other and characterize each other. The most horrible thing Trump has done is conflate the terms refuge and terrorist. It means the same thing in the U.S. now. A refugee used to be someone who you had empathy for, who you wanted to help and give refuge to. Now we’re afraid of them. We have to really understand what he and this conservative movement has done and not forget we’re all in this together. We can’t escape each others realities. We have to embrace each other and love each other.”
That’s been a recurring sentiment here in just the first few days of Berlin where the line between the celebration of film and the reality of current events is often blurred.
A drama about moral-conflict, The Dinner centers on brothers Paul (Coogan) and Stan (Gere) and their wives played by Linney and Rebecca Hall. During a dinner reluctantly shared by the quartet, dark family secrets are brought onto the table. The couples’ sons are responsible for a terrible crime and the parents must now decide how to deal with the situation.
Coogan for his part was asked if he thought his character was mentally ill. He quipped, “Yes, he does have a mental illness. But compared with the president of the United States, it looks like a mild headache.”
The Orchard acquired North American rights to The Dinner in Cannes and will release in the spring.