Purporting to examine contemporary social malaise in the Netherlands, “The Dinner” is more entree than main course. Best known as screenwriter of several Steven Spielberg films in the ‘80s, writer-director Menno Meyjes, adapting the bestselling novel by Herman Koch, fails to elucidate what this tale of two couples keeping mum about their children’s criminal activity has to do with the Dutch zeitgeist, leaving a pretentious talkathon where a rigorous critique might have been. Strong thesping, particularly by Jacob Derwig as the more obnoxious of the fathers, isn’t enough to help a viewer digest “The Dinner,” spelling limited Euro consumption.
Volatile, acerbic Paul (Derwig), his politician brother Serge (Daan Schuurmans), and their wives (Thekla Reuten, Kim van Kooten) meet in a swanky restaurant for dinner to discuss what to do about the fact that their teenage sons, Michel (Jonas Smulders) and Rick (Serge Mensink), have committed a heinously violent crime. Michel appears to have inherited Paul’s seething rage, but the blackly comic pic remains aloof on that matter; so, too, Meyjes scrambles narrative chronology in a way that keeps the audience at an unnecessary remove. Tech credits are serviceable.