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Food Of Love
TLA Releasing
Related Links:
Official Site
Official Site

Director: Ventura Pons
Producers: Ventura Pons
Written by: Ventura Pons; from the novel The Page Turner by David Leavitt
Cast: Juliet Stevenson, Paul Rhys, Allan Corduner, Geraldine McEwan, Kevin Bishop

Rating: out of 5


If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it that, surfeiting, the appetite may sicken and so die. — Wm. Shakespeare

I hate to poo-poo someone’s labor of love, but this is a sticky, dreary mess. It all starts when 18-year-old Paul Porterfield (Bishop), modestly talented piano student, gets the opportunity to be page turner at a San Francisco concert performance by his idol, pianist Richard Kennington (Rhys, a sort of cut-rate Rupert Everett). Paul and his mother, Pamela (Stevenson), meet up with Kennington again in Barcelona, where they’ve gone to recover from the news that the senior Mr. Porterfield has run off with his secretary. Here Paul and Richard begin an affair, which they conceal from Pamela by telling her they are sightseeing. The threesome meet for drinks and dinner every night, and soon Pamela, needing to be desired after her husband’s defection, is persuaded that Richard would welcome her advances.

Stevenson (Truly, Madly, Deeply; Nicholas Nickleby; Bend It Like Beckham) is the bright spot of the show as Paul’s emotionally labile mother. You’ll wring your hands for her as she makes her advances to Richard, with her forced gaiety layered over obvious nervousness at being out of practice at this game. This complicated situation overwhelms the craven Richard and, instead of accompanying the Porterfields to Granada as planned, he runs home to New York and his long-time lover/manager Joseph (Corduner), who has not exactly been a monk in Richard’s absence.

The movie tacks a bit with a subplot about Paul’s discovery, at Juilliard, that he’s not the prodigy he thought he was. But otherwise it’s a fairly straightforward soap opera, with Paul as the young beauty who just can’t seem to say no—or even imagine that perhaps sometimes one should say no. This trait makes him a plaything for older men, ultimately leading to a heartbreak any older, more experienced person—even his mother, whom he seems to despise—could have seen coming a mile off.

One can see tantalizing questions bobbing around like flotsam in this sea of pretentious froth. Why is Richard such a prat that he gets involved with a clearly worshipful fan who’s so young that he cannot possibly be expected to control his feelings? What if anything is being said about gay male relationships by depicting only May-December pairings? Are we to infer from Pons’ use of Orsino’s famous Twelfth Night quote that Paul has lost his appetite? Food Of Love leaves you wanting to read David Leavitt’s novel, in the hopes that you’ll find more there there. But then again, Leavitt has pronounced himself very satisfied with the filmic version of his work, so maybe this is truly all the there there is.

This movie was bad enough that I couldn’t force myself to watch it in one sitting. Luckily, I had the benefit of a video. On the other hand, you, the paying viewer, will be stuck in the theater for 112 tedious minutes.

—Roxanne Bogucka

 

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...


Mike Doughty



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