16 February 2008 | DICK STEEL
A Nutshell Review: Feast of Love
Shrewd marketing meant that Feast of Love's release here was to coincide with the extremely commercial Valentine's Day celebrations, but sometimes I wonder the value of such a move, because do you really want to spend that day dedicated to declarations of undying love, in a darkened cinema hall, involved in what is essentially a solitary activity, at least until the lights come on.
But to those who decide to do so, Feast of Love lives up to its namesake. Based on the novel by Charles Baxter, almost every conceivable notion of the modern relationship gets worked into the entire story. And it helps too with an ensemble cast filled with beautiful leads, from young upstarts to wisely veterans. As with most movies with a huge cast, everyone's connected to one another through the inevitable six degrees of separation, naturally for convenience, but in this aspect, it played to the early monologue and we take on the role of the Greek Gods, who introduced the notion of love and see how each of our human creations scuttle around trying to make sense of it, and through their individual journeys, succeed or fail, laugh or cry, get spurned on to heights unimaginable, or get thrown into the depths of heartbroken despair.
Morgan Freeman can almost sleepwalk through any wise, sagely character roles. After all, he's played the most powerful man on Earth before, and even God himself, twice. Here, he's Harry Stevenson, a university lecturer on a leave of absence who together with his wife Esther Stevenson (Jane Alexander), are grieving the lost of their only son. His best friend is a coffee joint owner Bradley Thomas (Greg Kinnear), who is just about the most unlucky bloke when it comes to affairs of the heart, with his female engagements being Selma Blair, Radha Mitchell and Erika Marozsan, who enter at different points of his life. Then there's Bradley's employee Oscar the baristas, whom we follow in a tale of young, passionate love at first sight with Chloe (Alexa Davalos).
As I mentioned earlier, every conceivable aspect of love get played on the big screen. You have the young love at first sight, the tried and tested bonds between the elderly who fear about impending departure from one another through death, you have ugly divorces, and worse, if it's for a member of the same sex, you have adultery and the exploration what makes it worse - knowing that you're cheating on your spouse, or cheating on a potential spouse because you've led them to believe that you're in exclusivity, and of course, parental love and guidance given towards a child.
Come to think of it, there're quite a number of negative emotions that get played through the movie, but ultimately, it's still provides a positive effect through the lessons learnt from succinct encounters that the characters go through. Such as whether you'll find the courage to go through hardship and difficulties with the other half, knowing the consequence of it all, finding little happiness and blessings in your daily life despite setbacks that take a stab through your heart, and what I thought was a very, very apt reminder and an important lesson to be learnt, is to always open your eyes and not be blindsided by love just because of the endorphins that course through your entire body make it seem that you can tolerate shortcomings for the longer term.
It's a reminder that in relationships, one has to be first honest with oneself, before seeking out that somebody else. Ditch those baggage, and fear not to break away amicably should you realize that things aren't working out right. Never give up hope, and to keep to your vows should you already have made them. Love is in the air, but pragmatism should sometimes prevail or be considered in tandem.