Monday, February 13, 2006

Movie Review: Eating (1990)

U.S. Release Date: 11/90
Running Time: 1:50
Rated: NR (Language, partial nudity)
Cast: Lisa Richards, Mary Crosby, Marlena Giovi, Nelly Alard, Frances Bergen, Gwen Welles, Marina Gregory

Director: Henry Jaglom
Producer: Judith Wolinsky
Screenplay: Henry Jaglom
Studio: International Rainbow Pictures

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Some claim that a Henry Jaglom film is “as close to capturing contemporary reality itself.” However, with Eating’s unceasing psychosis towards food and its inane plot development (during the film’s final third), Jaglom forcefully creates conflict instead of allowing it to evolve on its own. While Eating may be, as its subtitle states, “A Very Serious Comedy about Women & Food,” at long last, it is also very tedious, feigned, and bland.

Thirty-eight women of various ages converge at a Southern California home to celebrate the 30th birthday of Kate (Mary Crosby), the 40th birthday of Helene (Lisa Richards), and the 50th birthday of Sadie (Marlena Giovi). However, the party soon becomes the grand stage for Helene’s French houseguest, Martine (Nelly Alard), to film her documentary on “American women.” Meanwhile, Helene’s mother (Frances Burgen) tries to convince each woman that they are perfect in their own right, and Helene’s friend, Sophie (Gwen Welles), attempts to create unnecessary drama.

When one of the women initiates a conversation, she begins by paying another woman a compliment, and then, almost immediately, she shifts gears and emphasizes her own bodily imperfections. Having women incessantly complain about their body-image is a considerable turnoff, and having this presented in a cinematic format, results in the subject at hand becoming all too stale a little too quick. Eating is not as bad as grinding teeth, but it is painfully close; the griping and whining occur ad nauseam.

Mid-move one of the film’s characters quotes, “Twenty to thirty years ago, sex was the secret subject of women; now, it’s food.” Yet, with a horde of women seemingly discussing nothing but food, it seems as though the cat has already been left out of the bag. Yes, there are a few insights on abortion (from a pro-choice point-of-view), bulimia, and sex, but none are substantial enough to leave a lasting impression. Sorry, but a film that shares musings as stirring as the doldrums on fat, food, sex, hair, “sagging tits,” men, and weight, just isn’t my cup of tea. (*1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2006