Its 12:01 am
I’m a child of the 1970s in regards to TV and films. I grew up watching all sorts of fun shows with cops and doctor shows like “Adam-12”, “The Rookies” and “Emergency!” leading the way. As I got older and discovered sci-fi,fantasy and the world of the strange found in books,I started enjoying “Star Trek” and “The Six Million Dollar Man”.
In 1977 super producer Aaron Spelling debuted a new show called “Fantasy Island” which along “The Love Boat” made Saturday nights a must see TV night. Both shows had almost the same set-up,a core cast welcoming various guests on the ship/island featuring a mix of older stars and stars that were on other ABC shows as to help build their stars up in the public eye.
Each episode have a romance story,a comedy driven one and a dramatic themed one and the Spelling formula was a smash.
While “The Love Boat” was pretty fun and light as a feather,I always more excited about “Fantasy Island”. Before it went to series,two TV movies were made and shown as to test the waters so to speak. ABC wanted to see if the public would watch a show where your every fantasy could come true over the course of three days as long as you had 50,000 to pay the island’s owner,Mr. Roarke and his assistant Tattoo.
Well the movies led to a series and in September of 1977,Fantasy Island began airing and was a instant it. At first the show ran smoothly and the stars of the show,Ricardo Montalban who played Roarke and Herve Villechaize who Tattoo had a great relationship. Tattoo quickly became a part of pop culture lore with his “Da Plane! Da Plane” which was seen every week in the openning credits.
But there was problems in paradise and soon Herve Villechaize found himself out of a job,going broke and on the verge of losing most everything he had. So what went wrong?
In “My Dinner With Herve” a talented but troubled British journalist named David Tate (Jamie Dornan) finds himself in deep trouble on 27 August 1993. His serious drinking issues have him on the brink of being fired and his marriage looks to be broken as well.
His editor wants to give him a chance but she is concerned as well,its only when Tate shows her he has been sober 30 days that she sends him to America to interview Gore Vidal for a possible cover story. As an afterthought,she says she set up a interview with Herve Villechaize who rose to fame in the James Bond film “The Man With the Golden Gun” which would be celebrating its 20th anniversary. She asks David to do a 500 word piece and make it “funny”.
David flies out to Los Angeles and sets up a meeting with Gore Vidal at 10 pm. He decides to get the Villechaize interview done first and arranges to have dinner with him.
By this time Villechaize (Peter Dinklage) has almost hit rock bottom and become almost an afterthought. He has barely worked since “Fantasy Island” and welcomes the chance to chat. But Tate is in a hurry and really doesn’t know who Herve is,only that what he read in his notes.
Tate and Herve begin to verbally spar with Herve calling Tate a “junior” writer and Tate replying that his article will be buried in the paper because no one really cares anymore. Herve doesn’t want to end the dinner on a bad note and he offers to tell Tate a “real story”.
Tate dashes to meet Vidal but he is 23 minutes late,Vidal has stayed long enough for David to get there,only to tell him he isn’t going to chat with him. David’s editor is furious at him for screwing this up as this is costing the paper a LOT of money. He is told to stay put while they attempt to salvage the story.
David,now 32 days sober,has requested his minibar be removed from his room before metting Herve,after blowing the assignment,he blows up at the hotel for not removing the minibar. He then goes downstairs to get some air when Herve pulls up in a limo and talks David into riding with him.
David is bit puzzled on how Herve can afford a limo when his attempt to pay for dinner was denied by a maxed out credit card. But into the limo we go and Herve begins to share his life story of which we see. It’s a rough one in many respects,Herve was born in war torn Paris during World War Two.
His parents had a very tough time dealing with his dwarfism,his mother rejected him and his father spent years looking for a “cure”.
Herve went on to becoming a vibrant and vital artist in France but he got the acting fever and moved to New York where he learned English by watching TV.
The film chronicles Herve’s rise which includes the James Bond movie where both his parents are pleased and happy for him. Then once more he goes back to struggling…Herve was living in his car when he landed the role of Tattoo in Fantasy Island.
Life should have been a no-brainer for Herve,he had a caring agent (!!!!),a new wife and as noted,fame.
So what went wrong,so terribly wrong for Herve???
When Herve introduces David to his manager Marty (David Strathairn) at 3:30 in the morning,Marty picks up the story on how Herve had tossed everything away….despite his best efforts to help Herve. Its plain that Marty still cares for Herve but he can’t do anymore to stop his spiral of self-destruction.
This is a very moving story and while its public knowledge that Herve Villechaize killed himself,not very many people remember Herve that man. He was a far more complexed and troubled person then was shared. Peter Dinklage gives a strong performance of Herve and you just feel so sorry for him,he is his own worst enemy and he never could accept that. While Dinklage sparkles here,his French accent isn’t the best and several times I couldn’t understand what he was saying and had to go back and crank up the sound.
Jamie Dornan plays David Tate who really is the film’s writer and director Sacha Gervasi. I have to say that Gervasi deserves credit for showing off his own mistakes in his life. Gervasi isn’t a bad guy but he can’t see or refuses to see what his actions have cost him. I loved the fact he was really fighting first for himself in keeping his sobriety and at the end he was fighting himself to accept what his drinking had done to his career and his family. Dornan does a masterful job at letting you see Tate/Gervasi’s painful struggle and you find yourself really rooting for him in the end.
The rest of the supporting cast,especially Strathairn and Mireielle Enos who played Herve’s long time friend Kathy Self,were also very strong and were potrayed fairly.
“My Dinner With Herve” is rated “R” language and nudity and has a run time of 106 minutes. You can get a copy of this film by going to the HBO website.
This film has no extra features.