Written by Pollo Misterioso
Robert Benton’s film Feast of Love makes a valiant attempt to satisfy any appetite when it comes to love. Unfortunately, some of the life lessons that are to be taken from the movie make it seem more like a buffet line—ordinary, stale, and the choices are already made for you.
It is based the 2007 novel by Charles Baxter and boasts a great cast, with leads played by Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear. Freeman’s Harry Stevenson begins the film, narrating his thoughts on what it means to be human as he walks around town in the middle of the night. We then flashback 18 months before this as we see him meet up with friend Bradley Thomas (Kinnear) on a softball diamond. Here we see Bradley’s wife Kathryn, played by Selma Blair, about to go up to bat.
As a witness to the daily activities of these Portland folks, we also see how these people fall in love, and it as quick and perfect as the movies make it out to be. Our first run-in with love comes when Kathryn falls for another softball player in a bar, while she is still in the arms of her husband. In case we didn’t see it happen, Stevenson tells his wife that he saw two people fall in love that day.
Our next couple de jour is between the barista Oscar, played by Toby Hemingway, and Chloe, played by Alexa Davalos. They meet and it’s love at first sight. Their love is pure and strong, something that Oscar always acknowledges—they have nothing to fear.
Bradley represents the bumbling fool when it comes to love, for he loves blindly, and with the end of his first marriage, his approach doesn’t seem to work out for him. He keeps on loving, trying again and again to find a true a love that will love him back. His second attempt comes in the form of a real estate agent that comes into his coffee shop on a rainy day. Diana, played by Radha Mitchell, is another flawed woman that cannot seem to stay away from married men. Bradley is doomed, but even though Diana loves men that are already attached, it seems that it still works out for her.
Throughout Feast Stevenson plays the all-knowing guidance counselor to these younger couples, giving them advice from his table at the coffee shop. Interestingly, he is flawed himself, he has lost love in his life and it still haunts him. Of course, Freeman is perfectly cast in such role, but his character only gets so troubled, we never see what goes on under the surface.
The film interestingly breaks up the interaction between the couples. It is not until the end when we have caught up with our 18-month time lapse and then everyone is seemingly connected in some way. Actually, the editing between couples is a fresh approach to the story, making them seem like short films intertwined into one.
If we take it at face value, Feast indulges the viewer with many different outcomes to love, but they all end with this notion of “true love”—if one waits long enough true love will come along, one cannot be angry at someone for finding their true love. Personally, if I found out I was cheated on, I don’t think I would shrug it off and tell myself that it’s okay because they found true love, but I guess the subject of love is often taken with spoonful of sugar.
Love is painful, in the sense that those that we love may pass away, we may not always be in love, and sometimes our love finds someone else. Feast makes light of other forms of love and says that everyone will find true love, if we just keep looking. The DVD extras only include interviews with some of the cast. Feast of Love proves to be a good meal; it’s just not as nourishing as I had hoped.