Greg Kinnear has an unsightly disposition for desperation. With sagged rings etched deep beneath a pair of disarmingly alert, cupid-blue eyes, his sad-sack heroes more likely frighten viewers into sympathizing with him than draw mutual understanding. In Feast of Love, director Robert Benton and screenwriter Allison Burnett try out the same agonizingly sappy treatment on Kinnear and an entire host of characters revolving around a small coffee shop in Portland. The result is offensively silly. Culled into one tedious tale through the grandfatherly narration of Morgan Freeman, a regular java Joe, it’s a feast of something numbingly sweet. But it’s all froth without a drop of substance.
Based on the novel by Charles Baxter, who, poor soul, is probably not to blame, the film centers around Bradley (Kinnear), the shop’s owner. Bradley hops from one relationship to the next, prompted by wife Selma Blair’s having left him “for another woman” — a lament that’s lost some of its bite almost 30 years after Woody Allen said it in Manhattan.
Despite earnest performances from most of the cast, the script never lets you break a chuckle; an extraneous interlude with Bradley and his sister fighting over a dog left me wondering whether it was supposed to be comic. What it lacks in laughs the film makes up for in full-frontal nudity and so many scenes of different couples coupling, well, you begin to distinguish whose ass is whose, which is a feat.
This is all irrelevant to the story, though, which is to say — in dusty, bittersweet lighting — that love is the only meaning to “this crazy dreamworld we’re trapped in.” Let me out.