Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Billy Burke, Selma Blair, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, Stana Katic, Erika Marozs�n, Jane Alexander, Fred Ward, Margo Martindale, Missi Pyle, Shannon Lucio, Alex Mentzel
Written by: Allison Burnett, based on the book by Charles Baxter
Directed by: Robert Benton
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, nudity and language
Running Time: 102
Date: 09/28/2007
IMDB

Feast of Love (2007)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Yum of Its Parts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

No director alive can make family melodramas as brilliantly as Douglas Sirk (All That Heaven Allows, Written on the Wind) once did, but I'd suggest that Robert Benton comes the closest. Based on a novel by Charles Baxter, Feast of Love focuses on several couples in a Portland college community. Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman) is a professor on hiatus; he and his wife Esther (Jane Alexander) still mourn the death of their grown son. Harry more or less keeps watch over the neighborhood and dispenses advice. He opens a bottle of wine every time he sees someone fall in love. Bradley (Greg Kinnear) runs the local coffee house, and loses his wife (Selma Blair) when she unexpectedly falls for another woman (Stana Katic). Bradley's employee Oscar (Toby Hemingway) falls madly for Chloe (Alexa Davalos) who walks in looking for work. And Bradley falls for real estate agent Diana (Radha Mitchell) who can't seem to quit her affair with a married man (Billy Burke). Benton (Twilight, The Human Stain) has a delicate tender touch for the trouble that follows, with the possible exception of a death scene that's too obviously foreshadowed. Even his pop music montage sequences ring with truthful emotion (he gets points for using Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah"). It's a shame that the lesbian couple disappears, as it turns them into villains, compared to Bradley's puppy-dog cuckold. It's all fairly lightweight, but it's enjoyable nonetheless. (Note: Freeman and Kinnear also appeared together to excellent effect in Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty.)

DVD Details: Fox's DVD comes only with a 12-minute featurette, interviewing Benton, some actors and some crew, though most of it was probably shot at a junket. They clearly -- still -- don't know quite how to market this unsung film.

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