Critical reviews, both short (one page) and long (four pages), usually have a similar structure. Check your assignment instructions for formatting and structural specifications. Headings are usually optional for longer reviews and can be helpful for the reader.
Summarising and paraphrasing are essential skills for academic writing and in particular, the critical review. To summarise means to reduce a text to its main points and its most important ideas. The length of your summary for a critical review should only be about one quarter to one third of the whole critical review.
The best way to summarise is to:
- Scan the text. Look for information that can be deduced from the introduction, conclusion and the title and headings. What do these tell you about the main points of the article?
- Locate the topic sentences and highlight the main points as you read.
- Reread the text and make separate notes of the main points. Examples and evidence do not need to be included at this stage. Usually they are used selectively in your critique.
Paraphrasing means putting it into your own words. Paraphrasing offers an alternative to using direct quotations in your summary (and the critique) and can be an efficient way to integrate your summary notes.
The best way to paraphrase is to:
- Review your summary notes
- Rewrite them in your own words and in complete sentences
- Use reporting verbs and phrases (eg; The author describes…, Smith argues that …).
- If you include unique or specialist phrases from the text, use quotation marks.
“We’re gonna talk tonight,” the politician Stan Lohman (Richard Gere) says at the beginning of the ridiculous restaurant meal that serves as the framework for “The Dinner.” Stan’s determination is cheering, especially when we learn that one of his dinner guests — his brother, Paul (Steve Coogan) — is resolutely incapable of listening to any voice but his own.
And that’s a huge problem for the movie, never mind for Stan. Cynical and sometimes venomous, Paul’s rants and digressions — employed to forestall a critical family discussion — commandeer so much screen time that you wish he’d choke on his so-called Thumbelina carrots. (This is the kind of establishment where descriptions of the food take longer than its actual preparation.) A mentally unstable former history teacher, Paul is resentful of Stan’s success and heedless of the entreaties of his wife (Laura Linney) and the admonitions of his sister-in-law (Rebecca Hall) to hold his tongue.
The couples have met to hash out their response to an incendiary and horrific incident involving their teenage sons. But the story (by the director, Oren Moverman, adapting the 2009 novel by Herman Koch) takes so long to unveil its secrets that they emerge with far less force than they should. And despite frequent flashbacks and Bobby Bukowski’s richly dimensional photography, the movie has a static, stagy look that amplifies the oppressiveness of its increasingly unpleasant exchanges.
What we’re left with is a morality play in which three deeply deplorable people — and one surprising white knight — wrestle with class privilege, mental illness and extremely silly food. As for Paul, I expect he was a lot more bearable on the page than in our faces.
StarsRichard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny
Running Time2h 0m
GenresDrama, Mystery, Thriller
- Movie data powered by IMDb.com
Last updated: Nov 2, 2017