film reel image

film reel image

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Table for Five 1983 * * * Stars


If you grew up in the early 80s and had HBO, you probably caught a showing of 1983's Table for Five. If you didn't, there's always a chance to YouTube this epitome of a family drama that plays out innately and avoids the fall in, TV feel.

So yeah, Table for Five is a talky film but there's a lot of globetrotting cinematography that compels it to rise above the norm. I mean never have I seen something cinematic-ally, that had grand production values to compliment all things dialogue-driven. The sense of time and place as well as the locales are in abundance here, with director Robert Lieberman placing his actors in scenic foregrounds and letting them naturally emote. Egyptian pyramids and the Colosseum and the Ruins of Athens, Greece oh my!

Vista views aside, Table for Five is also a rough around the edges character study starring Jon Voight, Richard Crenna, and some unknown child troupers. With almost perfect casting, elegant tenor, and empathy for its otherwise WASPY subjects, "Five" has the usual helping of domestic back and forth until it takes a darker turn (which I won't reveal).

The standout performance in "Five" obviously goes to Voight, who relishes his disciplined role as former golf pro and estranged dad, J. P. Tannen. Table for Five's story involves Tannen taking his kids (who he rarely sees) on a Mediterranean cruise to reconnect with them. "Five" is well, edited effectively as its events have a very sequential feel to them.

So OK, what can I say about Jon except that he anchors "Five" (no pun intended). His persona is equal parts confident, likable, slightly fused, and flawed. You watch him in other stuff like Deliverance, Heat, Runaway Train, and the aforementioned and you just can't tell it's the same dude. Voight and Table for Five are both able to be veritably protean. "Life table".

Written by Jesse Burleson

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