Image courtesy of impawards.com
Morgan Freeman .Harry Stevenson
Greg Kinnear .Bradley Thomas
Radha Mitchell .Diana
Billy Burke .David Watson
Selma Blair .Kathryn
Alexa Davalos .Chloe
Toby Hemingway .Oscar
Stana Katic .Jenny
Erika MarozsÃ¡n .Margaret Vekashi
Jane Alexander .Esther Stevenson
Fred Ward .Bat
Romantic movies usually subject their viewers to complicated feelings, or at least they hope to. More often than not the emotions triggered by these movies are sadness and frustration. If the romance is too real, a viewer might feel heart pangs because he has never had such an experience, or he may feel whimsical for a past experience that was similar. If the romance is too false, frustration sets in because the viewer might wish that things could be that simple, but he knows that love never comes so easy. In contrast, Feast of Love should make the viewer outright angry because it may be the first romance movie I have ever seen that makes my love life look enviable by comparison.
I suppose it is nice to see a film that reminds us that things could be worse, but that film should never hide behind the title Feast of Love. Nearly every character in the film is unable or incapable of finding a partner that makes them happy. Those who do find love are vilified for it. For instance, why should Selma Blair’s character feel bad about leaving Greg Kinnear for another woman when Kinnear never understood who she was in the first place? In a comedy we would be glad to see the lipstick lesbian (and if ever there were one, it is Blair) ditch the bland, oblivious cad for someone better. But in Feast of Love we hiss the wicked and deceitful way in which she left.
That goes double for Radha Mitchell’s adulterous real estate agent. Before she marries Kinnear, she must inform her booty call (who is also married) that she has chosen to get married and does not want to see him anymore. In an intentionally inspired concept, the adulterer proves to be the most moralistically sound character in the film, a character trait that speaks volumes about the rest of the cast full of supposedly sympathetic characters.
Examine Morgan Freeman’s character: an emotionally closed-off professor who doesn’t have the decency to tell his friend that his wife may be leaving him, twice! Why should we root for him to be happy when he has no interest in the happiness of anyone else? He is portrayed as a gossip, but he is more of a voyeur than someone who is willing to take action. It is not until the very last possible moment that he finally comes out of his malaise to do something remotely unselfish.
Freeman adopts the surviving half of a young married couple after her husband dies suddenly. Even if her husband’s death were not telegraphed from almost the very second they meet, it would have still been predictably groan inducing. Would it have hurt the story to have had at least one couple who remains happy throughout? When the husband’s death finally comes, it is almost a relief because it implies that the sweet release of the credits is coming soon, yet the movie drags on.
What sort of self-righteous, preachy would Feast of Love be without filtering out the intended lessons in the last 10 minutes? But it is difficult to listen to Kinnear’s doormat wax philosophical about why love is important when he has truly shown no personal growth. Harder still is watching Freeman’s character decide he will be a new man even though he has done nothing to deal with his feelings as they pertain to the death of his son. However, by that point, I was too exhausted to care.
As someone who holds love in high esteem but experiences it very little, it made me uncomfortable to feel emotionally superior to so many flawed characters. When it comes to romance, I guess I would rather be lied to about how great it could be rather than be reminded of how tragic it often is.
FINAL RATING (ON A SCALE OF 1-5 BUCKETS):