With Lots of Love
Professor Harry Stevenson (Morgan Freeman) knows a lot about love; he has been married for many years and observed many things. Harry spends time each day at a coffee shop run by the recently married Bradley (Greg Kinnear - Little Miss Sunshine) who has become a good friend and who Harry has observed is oblivious to the fact his softball playing wife Kathryn (Selma Blair - In Good Company) is falling in love with another woman. Bradley is a romantic and after Kathryn leaves him he jumps back on the horse and starts dating a realtor called Diana (Radha Mitchell - Rogue) except she is sleeping with someone else. It is not just Bradley's love life which Harry observes as there is also Oscar (Toby Hemingway) and Chloe (Alexa Davalos) who work at the coffee shop, very much in love but with Oscar having a drunken father.
Morgan Freeman is a man whose rich tone of voice and gentle charm makes him a calming spirit, place him in the middle of a drama and allow that smooth voice full of wisdom to wash over what is going on and it settles things down. It is the casting of Morgan Freeman who is the anchor in "Feast of Love" as he is the rock in the middle of this drama as we observe different facets of love. And Freeman gives one of those trademark calm performances of a character who exudes warmth and wisdom in a wise old owl sort of way.
But whilst Freeman is the movies anchor, the man who observes what others are too busy to see he is surrounded by good performances from Selma Blair as Kathryn through to Missi Pyle as Kathryn's sister. But it is Greg Kinnear who commands the most attention as Bradley, a likeable guy who as we discover is a romantic but one who gets things wrong. Not in the comical sense but as in his vision of romance doesn't always work such as his need for Kathryn to like dogs but is in fact scared of them.
As to what happens this is where "Feast of Love" is both engaging but a let down. What we observe are these various stories which detail love: Oscar and Chloe passionate young love where the physicality of sex is a major part of their relationship. The romantic delussionment of Bradley with his preconceived idea of perfect romance, the tentative relationships between Kathryn and her girlfriend and so on. And these are all fascinating, well acted and delivered in a mature fashion so whilst there is nudity and sex scenes it is never gratuitous.
But it feels to me that "Feast of Love" has more to say and maybe Charles Baxter's novel on which it is based says a lot more. It left me feeling a little let down because it frequently becomes a series of moments to tell a bigger story. Kathryn's falling in love with another woman features one scene on the softball field, one scene in the bar where Harry observes the flirting, one scene in a car and then a scene of them wrapped up in each other in bed. It just feels like there is more which needed to be said and that is the same when it comes to all of the characters and their relationships as 101 minutes is not time enough to paint these pictures of love.
What this all boils down to is that "Feast of Love" is a fascinating, often beautiful, touching, well acted drama about different aspects of love. It is never gratuitous despite frequent nudity and sex but neither is it ever overly artsy or pretentious. But it is a movie which needed more space to breathe, to fill in the cracks rather than just deliver the main scenes.