I am not sure I have ever watched a film with such potential and such great performances that was utterly torpedoed by frustrating and awful storytelling, bad direction and, weirdly, atrocious sound design.
Starting with that last point first, when your film is primarily a dialogue driven drama, it helps if you can hear what's being said.
It's meant to be a nuanced and complex 4 hander between family members, trying to figure out what they do about a disastrous and disgusting incident involving their awful children. The majority of the story being told around a dinner table at the most exclusive, pretentious and downright irritating restaurant you can possibly imagine.
Along the way we cumbersomely find out some backstory about these messed up, manipulative adults with the focus, mainly, on Steve Coogan's insecure, neurotic, anxious, bi-polar history professor.
The whole thing is utterly frustrating and irritating. Not only can you barely hear what a lot of the cast are mumbling at each other but even when you can hear it, you don't know why they're saying what they're saying until it's too late and you've stopped caring.
The storytelling is non-linear with flashbacks all over the shop, assaulting your face like a badly edited and mediocrely filmed commercial for a drug that helps you fight mental illness while maintaining a four hour erection. Sadly it's written and directed by people who don't understand how non-linear storytelling can work. Too often in the film you find yourself down a rabbit hole of a flashback wondering how and why you got there and where the hell are you anyway?
About all I could fathom from this movie is that human beings are all mostly awful - especially ones who fetishsise food like it's a meticulous, masturbatory, smug-a-thon - , the writer thinks the subject matter is way deeper than it actually is, the Director doesn't understand metaphor, editing, storytelling, flashbacks or recording sound and that, at least, under all that, like two people trapped in thick soup in a cave full of bat shit, Steve Coogan and Laura Linney are acting their skin off. Richard Gere and Rebecca Hall aren't bad either, although Hall's accent wildly skids all over the globe like an alcoholic ice skater, it's just, much like the swanky restaurant the film is set in, they don't get much to sink their teeth in to.
Given a rewrite this film could have wandered into 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' territory. It had that potential. Strip out the restaurant, the flashbacks and the mumbling, layer the script with a bit more human poetry and a lot less about the fucking battle of Gettysburg (a weak and utterly overplayed metaphor in the film) and maybe, just maybe you'd have something.
Sadly though, while a game cast give it their all and while about 45mins of this is watchable purely for Coogan, after that the whole thing falls apart under the massive and wobbly weight of all its faults and it becomes an exercise in futility, confusion and masochism to scrape your way to the end.
I can't help but think that the whole film was some hipster joke. That the pretentious, ridiculously exclusive restaurant is really a metaphor for the whole film. It's smug, all talk, utterly devoid of sustenance and in the end you leave feeling hungry.