04th Jan2022

‘An Exquisite Meal’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Mike Jimerson, Amrita Dhaliwal, Victoria Nugent, Ross Magyar, Mark Pracht, Emily Marso, Bassam Abdelfattah, Siddhartha Rajan, Luke Johnson | Written and Directed by Robert Bruce Carter

It’s becoming more and more common that I review movies that I know very little about. An Exquisite Meal took things a little further though because when I checked its IMDb it didn’t even have a synopsis. So I was watching An Exquisite Meal on the title alone.

Unsurprisingly, An Exquisite Meal is centred around a meal that is about to take place. We start with two couples kind of enjoying each other’s company until they are joined by a few more people. Some friends, others complete strangers. You might wonder why they’d have complete strangers join them for a meal but all is explained. Explained doesn’t mean it has to be completely believable though and although some viewers might question that believability in the movie, it’s something that plays a big part in it.

There’s a certain surrealness throughout the whole movie, from the way it is shot, how the music is used and how the characters behave. It absolutely worked for me though, I loved how strange it all was. There’s several WTF moments – such as the friends discussing how great television is at the moment and the film cutting to a black screen with the words ‘Golden Age of Television’ splayed across it. There’s a conversation by a so-called French philosophy teacher about the movie Transformers and how you don’t even need to watch it to hate it, that sums up a lot of people’s views on social media brilliantly well.

Because of all this oddness, you forgive some of the behaviour and dumb decisions the characters make. See a man have an accident outside of the house and probably die – you should probably call the police. This group decide it would be better have dinner first and hope someone else will call the police. This sounds ridiculous and almost definitely is but in the context of the movie worked perfectly well. An Exquisite Meal is supposed to be surreal, supposed to make you feel like you’re watching a dream.

There’s also a nice awkwardness to much of the comedy, not dissimilar to comedies like The Office and the cast pull this off pretty well. I was surprised to learn that many people involved in the movie are relatively inexperienced because everyone puts in good performances. It all comes across very natural. Mark Pracht (who only has four IMDb credits to his name) as Paul was a highlight for me. What could be a very simple role he plays cleverly and the character doesn’t go the way you expect them too – the writing absolutely helps here too.

Director and writer Robert Bruce Carter impresses with how he tries lots of different things and pulls off almost all of it. There’s interesting uses of zoom and camera focus – nearly always for comedic effect – and the score is fantastic (Jessica Jarvis can take credit here). I’ve not seen many better uses of music in low budget movie making. It hits all the right notes but remains unique.

An Exquisite Meal doesn’t hang around long, it only just makes the one hour mark but it feels like just the right amount of time. This dark comedy is clever, engaging and often fun. Well worth checking out.

An Exquisite Meal is available on demand and on digital now, across the US, from Gravitas Ventures.


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