My Dinner with Slow Romance

Jamie Toth, The Somewhat Cyclops
16 min readDec 4, 2021

An Analysis of two Conversation-driven Films: My Dinner with Andre’ and The Secret Society For Slow Romance.

I knew I’d have to watch My Dinner with Andre’ to understand all of the influences that went into making The Secret Society for Slow Romance. Sujewa Ekanayake, the auteur behind The Secret Society for Slow Romance, made Louis Malle’s film a ‘must watch’ for actress Alia Lorae before filming. That meant it was a must-catch for me.

I’m glad I watched it, because The Secret Society for Slow Romance is a variation on My Dinner with Andre’ in the purest classical music sense — Ekanayake takes structures and motifs from My Dinner with Andre’ and transforms them into something effervescent, sweet, and uplifting, despite dealing with some heavy subjects.

The two films have quite a bit in common. Both focus on lively conversation between New York storytellers covering a variety of topics over shared dinners. But the focus of ‘The Secret Society for Slow Romance,’ is filmmaking as a vehicle for connection and that is the driver of the conversations, while My Dinner with Andre’ is focused on the nature of our disconnectedness. At the heart of ‘The Secret Society for Slow Romance’ is a rejection of pessimism, which gives the film a big heart and an important message for these times. Its philosophy merges productivity and happiness and is a key difference that drives a number of the contrasting elements between the two films.

My Dinner with Andre’ explores the magical vs. the pragmatic — while The Secret Society for Slow Romance celebrates when the two are working in concert.

Opening Focus

My Dinner with Andre opens quietly, joining Wally Shawn (Wallace Shawn) on his journey through the streets of New York to an upper-scale restaurant to meet a man he’s been avoiding, Andre’ Gregory. He’s been avoiding Gregory because, in Wally’s eyes, it sounds like Gregory is unhinged. He sobs outside of cinemas, he talks to trees, and it’s obvious this isn’t what Wally signed on for. The opening scenes focus on Wally as he makes this journey — the city dwarfs his figure as he moves through it, and rather than interact with his environment, he seems to move almost in spite of it.

He’s there, he really is. Wallace Shawn as ‘Wally’ in My Dinner with Andre’, directed by Louis Malle. Winstar Cinema.
Jamie Toth, The Somewhat Cyclops

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