Thursday, April 7, 2016

A to Z Challenge: Feast of Love

There are two notable facts concerning me and the book this is based on.  First, the author of the book is from my home state and when frequent lurker and Amazon buddy Ethan Cooper mentioned that I decided to read the book.  And also there was once a social networking site called Gather where I won a movie adaptation version of the book.  I still have it as one of my few trophies.

Sadly I don't remember a lot about either book or movie. So this guy (Greg Kinnear in the movie) sees two young people screwing on the football field of the University of Michigan (which I think is Oregon in the movie) and then he meets up with an old guy (Morgan Freeman in the movie) who tells him these stories about love.  It's kind of like "Love Actually" or something like that with all these different people but then their lives kind of intersect.

I guess the thing to say about both book and movie is they were OK but not especially memorable.  But hey, here's my movie review!

Early in my Gather career I won a copy of the book "The Feast of Love" by Charles Baxter as part of a promotion for the movie. Yet I didn't ever watch the movie until now, when I saw that book on my shelf and wondered why I hadn't seen the film. I could have gone on waiting because this movie didn't make much of an impression on me. The best way of describing my disappointment is that this movie is too sappy to the point where I find it hard to suspend disbelief.

If you ever watched the TV show "Friends" (or did for a couple of seasons and then stopped caring like I did) you might remember the character Ross who wound up being married and divorced 3 times on the show. Bradley Smith (Greg Kinnear) gets into a similar fix, first when his wife for the last six years falls for another woman at a softball game. Later an attractive blond named Diana walks into Bradley's coffee shop in Portland, Oregon (the book incidentally was set in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which is one of the reasons I read it, to support a "local" author) and Bradley gets her help on finding a new house that isn't haunted by his wife's ghost. They end up getting married, but there's just one hitch: Diane is having an affair with a married man, David--she was doing this even before she met Bradley. So you can guess how that's going to turn out.

Meanwhile, at the coffee shop a new employee named Chloe falls in love with her co-worker Oscar. Oscar is a former drug addict who lives with his abusive drunken father known as The Bat--and not because he dresses up in tights and fights crime at night. When Chloe consults a psychic, she gets some bad news about Oscar, but presses ahead anyway. You can guess how that's going to turn out too.

In the midst of it all is wise professor Harry (Morgan Freeman) who is on a leave of absence after his son's death from drug-related complications. Harry advises Bradley and Chloe with sage advice like make sure you have two kids--you know, in case the first one dies then you have a backup.

In other, better movies we might have dealt with this realistically with arguments, anger, recriminations, etc., but "Feast of Love" is hell-bent to prove to us that love conquers all to the point where we're supposed to believe that all these people who have broken up, cheated on each other, and so forth are going to get together for a merry little picnic with maybe a musical number at the end. Being somewhat cynical I have to conclude Bradley is either an idiot or the biggest doormat since Charlie Brown. Not even similarly-themed movies like "Love Actually" ask us to make that kind of leap.

I haven't read the book in a while, but I don't quite remember it being that hokey. Maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, if you're less of a cynic you might actually enjoy this movie as a good break from your Nicholas Sparks books. Though what's funny as one reviewer pointed out for a movie that takes such a saccharine view of dating there's an awful lot of nudity involved.

That is all.

My score: 2/4 stars
And even better, here's my book review too!

Let me begin by offering a word of caution. This is a literary book about love. It is not a "love story" in the traditional sense like "The Notebook". It's not particularly romantic.

It's more a disjointed narrative about Bradley Smith and the people around him--his neighbor and two of his employees--as they go through various relationships. Bradley's first two marriages go astray for different reasons. His third relationship works better. His neighbors have strained relations with their son. And his employees--Chloe and Oscar--are "Living on a Prayer" as Bon Jovi said.

I found it all sort of clinical and not thoroughly entertaining or engaging. The Chloe parts were the most interesting because of her unique voice. While the book I thought was supposed to deal with Bradley, Chloe came to dominate the story until Bradley disappears almost entirely in the last third of the book after he begins his third relationship. All I can tell you about that one is she's a black emergency room doctor from Africa. I guess she's nice, but there's no detail given to their relationship.

In the end, this book is hit-and-miss. That made it a slow read for me. While the prose is good enough and the characters are mostly interesting, it was not a compelling book for me. I hope you feel differently.

(3/5 stars)

So yeah both book and movie were kinda meh.

1 comment:

  1. Haven't seen this one but I did see Cider House Rules and I really enjoyed your post about it. I think it's a great idea to do these 'A to Z', 'from books to films' posts. I hope to see more of them.



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