Feast of Love

Feast of Love

2007, R, 102 min. Directed by Robert Benton. Starring Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Jane Alexander, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, Selma Blair, Fred Ward, Billy Burke.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Oct. 5, 2007

No one's cup runneth over, and it's unlikely that anyone will return for seconds. What Feast of Love lacks in nutritive value it makes up for with heaping wads of artificial sweeteners that coax each character's frown to turn upside down or find the silver lining in the sadness or latch on to any kind of handy cliché to keep the sorrow at bay. For love's perpetuity seems doomed to failure, as demonstrated by most of this movie's examples – except for the decades-long marriage of the story's central character and linking device, Harry Stevenson (Freeman), and his wife, Esther (Alexander). Yet even Harry, a professor on a leave of absence, carries a burden of sorrow and apparently drowns it in a daily cup of joe at the Jitters coffee shop run by Bradley Smith (Kinnear). Freeman here plays another variation on a role he's played with frequency, from Driving Miss Daisy to Evan Almighty: the kindly black interlocutor for troubled white folks. (Are these really the best offers this Oscar-winner gets?) Set in Portland, Ore., Feast of Love is an ensemble piece in which a cluster of characters lose love, find love, mourn love, celebrate love, and otherwise obsess – all under the watchful eye of Harry, who notices little things that the others do not. Thus it's handy to have Kinnear on hand to reiterate another role as an oblivious but well-meaning family man. Retaining some of the flavor of the community of voices he fashioned in 1994's Nobody's Fool, director Benton keeps the story moving forward through its tenuous social connections. The script by Allison Burnett, based on a book by Charles Baxter, is another thing entirely, positing so many ridiculous coincidences, illogical occurrences, and sandpapered truths that this "feast" quickly becomes a veritable trough. Still, there are warm, genuine moments that endear these attractive characters and their experiences to us despite all the folderol. Feast of Love may be enough for some to keep the pangs at bay ’til the real thing comes along.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Robert Benton Films
The Human Stain
Despite some terrific moments, Philip Roth's words fail to stick to the screen.

Kimberley Jones, Nov. 14, 2003

Places in the Heart

Nov. 30, 2023

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Joy Ride
Raunchy road trip goes all the way to China for filthy fun

July 7, 2023

All That Breathes
The struggle by three men to save the endangered black kite

March 31, 2023


Feast of Love, Robert Benton, Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Radha Mitchell, Jane Alexander, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway, Selma Blair, Fred Ward, Billy Burke

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle