My Dinner With Herve is not quite so mentally stimulating as My Dinner With Andre. Instead of a good meal and some interesting conversation you get a slow, sad, drunken limousine ride (intercut with flashbacks) with Peter Dinklage doing a respectable imitation of Herve Villechaize of Tattoo of Fantasy Island fame and Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Grey) the struggling to stay sober witness and recorder of this little person’s retelling of his miserable, comic and tragic life.
My Dinner With Herve does make a valid attempt to go beyond— The Plane! The Plane!— of Villechaize existence. This long gestating HBO film was directed by Sacha Gervasi who was the last journalist to interview Villechaize prior to his unfortunate suicide.
Dornan is Gervasi’s onscreen proxy and the whole movie plays like more of a drunken elegy given at an Irish wake than a standard Hollywood biopic. The downside is that it becomes more about the living honoree than the honored dead.
There is a camp edge to all the Fantasy Island and Roger Moore Bond recreations that ground the flashbacks between camp and pathos, appropriate for someone reflecting on the bitter sweet successes and failures of his life. Andy Garcia’s off kilter performance and accent as Ricardo Montalban is just so balanced between good and awful that it makes palpable Villechaize’s detest and hatred of him.
In the end though, the sadness and fury so dominates My Dinner With Herve that it annihilates the life. It deprives Villechaize of a proper elegy.