By Matt Singer
[Photo: Greg Kinnear in “Feast of Love,” MGM, 2007]
The movie is called “Feast of Love” and, indeed, there is much love in the movie. Too much, in fact. If this is a feast, it is one in which the host bought an enormous quantity of food, and now the guests feel obliged to stuff their craws until they’re nauseous and bloated. This sort of movie and that sort of meal calls for a kind of moderation that director Robert Benton appears unwilling to provide.
And it’s not just that so many characters are falling in and out of love it’s that they do it so quickly as well! The various couples that come together and break apart in “Feast of Love” do so so quickly that it’s as if they’re participating in a timed track and field event. Take the film’s young couple, Oscar and Chloe. They decide to have children together after their second night together. Even if you fall in love with someone at first sight, even if you’re convinced you’re going to spend the rest of your life with the person, who drops that little nugget on date number two? At that stage, don’t people hint and tease and let their feelings out in drips and drabs? “Feast” is running a love sprint here, there’s no time for that.
The onslaught of swooning launches from the memories of Harry Scott (Morgan Freeman), a grieving college professor who assuages his insomnia by sharing with the audience his recollections of the past 18 months in the lives of his various friends and neighbors in Portland. There’s Bradley (Greg Kinnear), who runs Harry’s favorite coffee shop and doesn’t notice as his long-suffering, softball-playing wife (Selma Blair) falls for another woman (“I’m not the only one she tagged out!” she ambiguously informs Bradley when she finally comes out of the closet). And there’s also Oscar (Toby Hemingway), Bradley’s best barista, who’s the guy who informs his brand new girlfriend Chloe (Alexa Davalos) he’s ready to make some babies. Along the way, there are at least two extramarital affairs, a wedding, one off-screen death, one on-screen death, two different drug abusers, a kidnapped dog, and oodles of softcore sex scenes. No wonder Harry can’t sleep who could with all this stuff on their mind?
Despite undeniably pretty cinematography by Kramer Morgenthau, despite a fine performance from Kinnear in a thankless role as a hapless baffoon, “Feast” gives off an undeniably “Crash”-ian vibe of didactic plot machinations: hell, someone even dies in a car. And with such a large ensemble all vying for screen time, too many of the characters remain little more that sketches (like Fred Ward as Chloe’s eeeeeevil father). “The unexpected is always upon us,” Freeman intones near the end of his drippily paternal voiceover. “And so we begin again.” Ready whenever you are, guys.
“Feast of Love” opens on September 28th (official site).