26 July 2004 | HenreeMenkhera
I know that originally, this film was NOT a box office hit, but in light of recent Hollywood releases (most of which have been decidedly formula-ridden, plot less, pointless, "save-the-blonde-chick-no-matter-what" drivel), Feast of All Saints, certainly in this sorry context deserves a second opinion. The film--like the book--loses anchoring in some of the historical background, but it depicts a uniquely American dilemma set against the uniquely horrific American institution of human enslavement, and some of its tragic (and funny, and touching) consequences.
And worthy of singling out is the youthful Robert Ri'chard, cast as the leading figure, Marcel, whose idealistic enthusiasm is truly universal as he sets out in the beginning of his 'coming of age,' only to be cruelly disappointed at what turns out to become his true education in the ways of the Southern plantation world of Louisiana, at the apex of the antebellum period. When I saw the previews featuring the (dreaded) blond-haired Ri'chard, I expected a buffoon, a fop, a caricature--I was pleasantly surprised.
Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, the late Ben Vereen, Pam Grier, Victoria Rowell and even Jasmine Guy lend vivid imagery and formidable skill as actors in the backdrop tapestry of placage, voodoo, Creole "aristocracy," and Haitian revolt woven into this tale of human passion, hate, love, family, and racial perplexity in a society which is supposedly gone and yet somehow is still with us.