Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Feast of Love: Fall Syrup

Here's something worth missing at the movies this fall: Feast of Love, the latest from director Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Places of the Heart, The Human Stain).

Go here for my review, as published in Las Vegas City Life.

Or just read the review, below:

LOVE IS A MANY-SPLINTERED THING. That sentiment is at the heart of Feast of Love, a rambling collection of soapy vignettes centered on a group of friends, lovers, neighbors and co-workers in Portland, Ore.'s picturesque neighborhoods and one quaint coffee shop called Jitters. Veteran director Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, The Human Stain), now 75, offers a middling drama marked by sturdy enough performances and -- if nothing else -- handsome cinematography of nature, real estate and attractive people. The Pacific Northwest flora and fauna look great, as do the homey, wood-dominated interiors and the often unclothed bodies.

Morgan Freeman, back on the God beat in the recent Evan Almighty, makes a divine, benevolent presence in Feast of Love as college professor Harry Stevenson, the sort of world-weary but wise fellow who urges java-shop owner Bradley Smith (Greg Kinnear) to begin appreciating life's "simple pleasures -- small blessings." A little of that advice, dispensed after Bradley's wife (Selma Blair) has left him for another woman (Stana Katic), goes a long way.

That romantic catastrophe is just the first of several life crises experienced or observed by the two men and their small circle of friends: On the way are divorces, infidelity, desperate survival measures, a death foretold, a pregnancy and the danger posed by a drunken, bitter lout (Fred Ward). And yet, love blooms under the region's steadfast rains. Bradley, accompanied by his dog of the same name, finds at least temporary happiness with randy real estate agent Diana (Rahda Mitchell). Bradley's young employees (Alexa Davalos and Toby Hemingway) share passionate love and a fervent belief in a picture-perfect future. Harry and his wife Esther (Jane Alexander), as the group's token older couple, are the marital standard bearers -- loving, reliable, committed to each other. All in all, nice enough, a bit sexy and sad, if easily forgettable.

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