The Dinner Party is a very rare thing, a Canberra produced feature film.
And it’s based on the real events surrounding Joe Cinque and Anu Singh as documented by Helen Garner.
It’s also showing on Monday and Wednesday nights at Dendy as long as people keep turning up. The Monday night screening (28 Feb) is definitely on.
I went to see it last night and, well, wow.
It’s normally a pleasure reserved for residents of the world’s biggest cities, to see locales they know on the big screen. I can tell you that even the most hardened Londoner still feels a frisson when they see Leicester Square in a movie.
The Dinner Party captures Canberra in winter beautifully.
A city of darkness, mists, frozen fogs, artifical light, cold washed out sunshine, and raucous claustrophobic parties.
A city of grotty student shares and antiseptic socially disconnected units.
The movie’s set in 2007 and references the 1997 murder early when the police talk about how “this one’s just like that case ten years ago”.
The Dinner Party is a bleak tale of complicity, sociopathy, apathy, drugs, culpability, and murder.
And yet there are some brilliant moments of wry gallows humour. Particularly from the drug dealer character in the Northbourne flats.
The soundtrack also features a host of local Canberra bands, which work in beautifully.
That’s not to say it’s without troubles. Actors to used to working with removed theatre audiences are always prone to overdo it with a camera a metre from their face and it happens in patches here.
There are scenes that don’t quite work, some of the flashbacks can be confusing, and the incidental music is perhaps a touch overwhelming.
But the performances are generally excellent, the screenplay is riveting, and the last forty minutes will pull you in completely.
Everyone who considers themselves a Canberran should get out and see it.
I-Filed, who can usually find fault with anything and everyone, had this to say:
9:13 pm, 23 Feb 11
The Dinner Party will be screened again on Monday 28 February 6.45 pm. Go see it!
It’s great to see a film set in Canberra – beautifully shot and very Inner North, with the locations juxtaposing student-guvvie-grunge and a glabrous middle-market bland setting for poor “Joel” and “Angela King(h)” . I spotted the former Front co-owner among the extras.
Great to hear Fire on the Hill and other Canberra bands as the soundtrack.
My only beef with the film was that the lead actress overacted throughout – but while that detracted from the experience it didn’t wreck it for me.
(I’m still confronted that those 1997 dinner party guests are practising law in Australia and were never named).
RIP Joe Cinque