Movie Review by Louise Charman
Starring: Richard E Grant, Nathalie Baye
Director: Stephen Poliakoff
Dished up by writer director Stephen Poliakoff, with a seemingly appetising main course of Richard E Grant, this story of nostalgic thirty somethings revisiting their past is just a bit too cheesy to stomach.
Alex, played by Grant, is a disillusioned bank manager who teaches drama to inner London teenagers in his spare time. In a surge of nostalgia, he decides to act on a long held ambition to return to an English village and stage a Shakespeare play, as he had done many years before. He makes contact with the original group of players and persuades them to join him, completing the cast with three belligerent city kids from his class. Naturally things don?t go according to plan, and the troupe have to deal with hostile villagers, an impromptu performance in a local prison, and the loss of two of their key players just before the big night.
The basic idea behind FOOD OF LOVE isn?t such a bad one, that the world is changing so fast it?s easy to feel threatened and alienated by the technological rush, and the chance to escape for a moment to a safer place and time is therefore attractive. Who amongst us hasn?t sometimes yearned to go back and rediscover past happiness, or get a second shot at romance?
Unfortunately the film founders on this same sense of nostalgia, becoming heavy handed and predictable as the characters muse about times past and plod through their lines, almost every scene slathered in irritating music. The impact of technology even on this rural idyll is given a clumsy (and heavily underlined) metaphor when Alex and companion Michelle stumble upon a satellite dish planted in the rose bushes.
Richard E Grant is never stretched to his comic best, his talents confined to maintaining a fascistic rehearsal regime and feigning ?flu on the phone to his young and cynical boss. The other characters have little to work with, with France?s famed Nathalie Baye reduced to being Alex?s secret admirer with a silly accent.
The most interesting characters are not the thirty-somethings at all, but the urban teenagers who struggle to master Shakespeare?s lines with their rough accents. But even their behaviour changes unrealistically from the stereotypes of swearing, daubing graffiti and carrying ghetto blasters around, to an implausible degree of insight and understanding into the emotional problems of their older companions.
The attempts at comedy are all rather jaded, and the desire to boo the cast off the stage comes long before the painful performance of ?Twelfth Night? at the end of the film.