Movie Review: Feast of Love
I walked into Feast of Love with high expectations. Despite his reputation in some corners as a lightweight (probably only because he hostedTalk Soup all those years ago), I think Greg Kinnear is a profoundly underrated actor. His recent work, especially in Auto Focus, The Matador and Little Miss Sunshine has been wonderfully understated. That he would be joined by a bevy of equally solid, unflashy actors--Morgan Freeman, Jane Alexander, Radha Mitchell, Selma Blair--assured me that I was in for a good viewing experience.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Feast of Love certainly isn't a bad movie, but it is surprisingly mediocre. Allison Burnett seems to have adapted far too much of Charles Baxter's original book. The movie overflows with plot to such a degree that some events feel terribly abrupt and without sufficient background to motivate them. Director Robert Benton surely deserves significant blame for this. He didn't cut the script in pre-production and he certainly didn't put his foot on the neck of his editor. Because of that, the film is sometimes a mess.
Of course, love is messy (that may be Burnett and Benton's point) and messy movies about love can work (think Love Actually), but Feast of Love has such a hazy focus (and a few glaringly bad scenes with Fred Ward) that it just sort of ends with a whimper. All of the actors do a fine job (obviously the ones mentioned above, along with Billy Burke and Alexa Davalos), but the stories they serve are so mundane that you end up not caring very much by the end of the movie. The performances are interesting but not particularly memorable.
It's too bad really. Benton has assembled a cast that is not only talented but incredibly game (I can't remember the last movie I saw where so many of the actors had a nude scene--Mitchell, especially, just totally goes for it). Ultimately, though, all of the sex is just a welcome curiosity instead of an integral part of the story. I can't recommend seeing Feast of Love in the theaters, but it may be worth a rental in the future. It will almost surely become a staple on Mr. Skin. Freeze-framers with 1080p TVs: ready your remote controls!
Photos courtesy of MGM