11 user 5 critic

The Dinner (1998)

La cena (original title)
A multitude of characters face personal problems while having dinner in a roman restaurant.


Ettore Scola


Ettore Scola (story), Ettore Scola | 3 more credits »
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fanny Ardant ... Flora
Antonio Catania Antonio Catania ... Mago Adam
Francesca d'Aloja Francesca d'Aloja ... Alessandra
Riccardo Garrone ... Diomede
Vittorio Gassman ... Maestro Pezzullo
Giancarlo Giannini ... Professore
Marie Gillain ... Allieva
Nello Mascia ... Menghini
Adalberto Maria Merli Adalberto Maria Merli ... Bricco
Corrado Olmi Corrado Olmi ... Arturo
Eros Pagni Eros Pagni ... Duilio
Daniela Poggi Daniela Poggi
Rolando Ravello Rolando Ravello
Stefania Sandrelli ... Isabella
Stefano Antonucci Stefano Antonucci


An evening at an Italian restaurant. Hosted by tolerant and relaxed Flora, various parties of middle-class people come in -- large and small, young and old, regulars and tourists, married and single -- to dine, converse, argue, celebrate, make confessions; to overhear other people's discussions, to interrupt them, to sing, listen to music, and enjoy life. The camera, just like the people, moves constantly from table to table, into the kitchen and the back room to observe the staff's petty jealousies and frustrations -- until two hours later it's time for everybody to go home. Written by Markku Kuoppamäki

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama


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Official Sites:



Italy | France



Release Date:

27 November 1998 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

A vacsora See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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User Reviews

A masterpiece
17 June 2011 | by gregor_markovichSee all my reviews

The current score of this film (6.7) certainly does no justice to it and is indicative of what years of Hollywood-made movies does to what one expects from a movie.

This film does not have a coherent story, it does not take the viewer from point A to point B and thus does not offer any real "character advancement" or real "scenario". I believe the lack of those things causes the condemnation of most viewers since to most a "film" is a "story".

Well, Scola shows that it ain't necessarily so. This film could best be described as a series of "pictures" of characters and their situations. By taking us from table to table and shifting our attention from one to the next, he manages to portray the great deal of diversity of possible human positions/conditions/situations. The hall of the restaurant becomes a mosaic of people from all corners of the social structure and they have all kinds of fears, aspirations, hopes, sexual interests, political or financial anxieties, doubts or troubles.

Scola uses maestrically the twists of his characters moods and their dialogue in order to occasionally insert his own social or political comments, thus giving more substance to the film. He does so without showing that he wants to do so however, and the remarks might easily be passed by the uninterested or the uninitiated totally unnoticed.

The human conditions depicted in the film although presented in a light manner are no joke: The increasing distancing of a mother from her adolescent daughter, the illegitimate love between a professor and his student, the anxiety and lack of self assessment of a bank clerk, the anger of a grown-up daughter towards her supposedly un-loving father (and many more) are all deeply touching human conditions which Scola presents with a soft, warm, and at the same time lively manner.

The "gist" of the film is that by constantly moving from table to table and from situation to situation he slowly takes us through the collective proceeding of the "solution" or every case -either positive, negative or neutral- and when the film ends, you feel an undeniable sense of closure, of communication, of warmth, of collectiveness, of life. Scola makes us feel like we were sitting together with his characters, on their tables, and makes us understand what is the true meaning of sitting around a table with other people. It is the explanation of the "symposium" as one of the characters explains, too, in the film and Scola explains it in the most humane, warm and caring manner.

This film is nothing less than a masterpiece.

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