ANDRE GREGORY: BEFORE AND AFTER DINNER (director: Cindy Kleine; cinematographer: Tom Hurwitz; editor: Jonathan Oppenheim; music: Bruce Odland; cast: Wallace Shawn, Andre Gregory, Julianne Moore, Lester Thomas Shane, Lisa Joyce, Julie Hagerty, Larry Pine; Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Cindy Kleine; Cinema Guild; 2013)
“The witty and hilarious biopic looks back with fondness on how Gregory became an American icon in the theater and even found relative success in Hollywood.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Cindy Kleine (“Phyllis and Harold“), the 54-year-old wife of Andre Gregory, directs this wonderfully warm portrait of her actor, director and raconteur 78-year-old husband, which comes some thirty years after Andre appeared with close friend author Wallace Shawn in the landmark film by Louis Malle “My Dinner With Andre.” The witty and hilarious biopic looks back with fondness on how Gregory became an American icon in the theater and even found relative success in Hollywood.
The most startling moment is reserved for when Andre tells us his Russian-born Jewish parents fled Germany just before WW2 and the young Andre was not told the family was Jewish. When an adult, with a successful theater career, Andre learned from a noted historian’s book that his brilliant economist father collaborated with the Nazis to destroy the value of the franc by destabilizing it. He is still haunted by his father’s lack of empathy for other human beings.
We see movie clips of Andre acting in crass films like Goldie Hawn’s Protocol and Stallone’s crappy Demolition Man, which comes with an enjoyable anecdote that took place between Andre and the mediocre Italian director.
We also get to see clips of Andre’s legendary theater production of Alice in Wonderland, that was acted by an NYU group he taught for ten years, and clips from his continuous 14 years of rehearsals for a production of Ibsen’s The MasterBuilder starring Wally Shawn that finally opened.
Much of the film got sidetracked as it traced the life of Cindy Kleine, and how as a 39-year-old she found unexpected happiness marrying the widowed 63-year-old Andre. Fans of Andre should be enchanted by the pic, as I was.
REVIEWED ON 12/19/2013 GRADE: A-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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