Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke, Selma Blair, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway
- Rated R
- Buy the DVD
All photos © MGM Films
Reviewed by Jeff Giles
Being a well-known actor must not pay as well as it used to, because Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear were clearly in desperate need of money last year. There’s really no other way to explain their involvement in Robert Benton’s “Feast of Love,” a punishingly bad film that pretends it’s teaching its audience something meaningful about the way people interact with one another, but really just gives us a chance to see Radha Mitchell and Alexa Davalos without any clothes on.
Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you. But that’s what the Internet is for. Let Google point you to this movie’s finer moments, and leave the rest. It’s really that bad.
Benton is a talented director (he helmed the 1994 Paul Newman classic “Nobody’s Fool”), and the filmmakers assembled a wonderful cast, but all that talent is wasted by Allison Burnett’s asinine script. It twists Charles Baxter’s tender novel into a stupid, superficial thing that barely manages to wobble between distractingly false plot devices and horribly hackneyed dialogue: Davalos to Hemingway, 10 minutes after meeting him and 15 before sleeping with him: “Guys seem to be afraid of me. I think it’s my intensity.”
The plot, such as it is, sort of half-interestedly follows the romantic entanglements of Kinnear’s character as it traces the blooming love affair between Davalos and Hemingway. Above it all sits Freeman, whose Harry Stevenson manages to offer sage advice to pretty much everyone at least once. (His character has a backstory too – one at least six times as interesting as anything that happens to the others – but, like Stevenson’s motives for even speaking to these narcissistic halfwits, it’s left largely unaddressed.)
If the film’s only flaw was that it revolves around irritatingly shallow people, that would be bad enough – but it doesn’t even bother to develop them. “Feast of Love” is really just a series of vignettes, mostly concerning Kinnear’s idiot of a character. When we meet Bradley, he’s married to Selma Blair; 30 seconds into the film, she meets a lesbian softball player; five minutes after that, she’s moving in with her new girlfriend and shouting that Kinnear never really knew her at all. And not 10 minutes after that, Kinnear is telling Mitchell that he’s finally ready to move on. The soundtrack, and the actors’ facial expressions, make it clear that what we’re watching is supposed to mean something, but it doesn’t; any growth the characters experience is kept far, far away from the camera. The movie is so reliant on clichéd conversation that the only time it leaves one of its characters alone, he ends up committing a profoundly stupid – and rather unrealistic – act. It’s almost as if Burnett and Benton were bored with the characters too, and didn’t want to give the audience any time to reflect on what they were being asked to accept.
The DVD’s packaging, in a final bit of dishonesty, relies on a shot of Kinnear and Mitchell locking lips while Freeman looks on wisely from above. MGM wants you to believe “Feast of Love” is a romantic comedy, and it isn’t – it’s like the longest, most depressing, most poorly written episode of “Friends” you can imagine. The actors aren’t to blame – they all do what they’re asked to do, particularly Freeman and Kinnear, who were clearly hired to regurgitate pieces of more famous performances – but they aren’t enough reason to suffer through this load of hooey, either.