FOOD OF LOVE
Ambitious classical piano student Paul (Kevin Bishop) meets famous pianist Richard Kennington (Paul Rhys) when he is employed as a page turner. Richard is intrigued by Paul, as is Kenningtonís manager and lover Joseph Mansourian (Allan Corduner). Some months later when holidaying in Barcelona with his now separated mother Pamela (Juliet Stevenson), Paul meets Richard again and they begin a secret affair, which impacts on all their lives.
Review by Louise Keller:
A poignant and compelling story about relationships, Food of Love takes us on a bumpy but satisfying journey of the heart. But we get more than we bargain for, and become involved not only in the pivotal relationship between the page turner and the concert pianist, but in other key relationships. Based on David Leavittís novel The Page Turner, Spanish writer/director/producer Ventura Pons tackles universal themes, delving into the depths of human emotions and stripping away the superficial layers. The result is a heartfelt, engaging film that tugs at everything that makes us feel, as it peers deep into the bond of relationships. Paulís sexual awakening coincides with his motherís emergence from a failed marriage; their relationship going through the dramatic arc from tolerance to resentment to acceptance. When we first meet Paul, he is young, impressionable and still somewhat reluctantly attached to his motherís apron strings. She fusses over him and we can feel his embarrassment. During the first half of the film, we see both Pamela and Richard through his eyes. Richard represents everything he aspires to Ė notably success on the concert stage. What begins as a backrub explodes into a possessive affair of passion, and we are there for the heat. The story then shifts to Pamela and we embark on her emotional journey, until it intersects and collides with Paulís. Itís a strong cast that meshes together and creates such an impact. Juliet Stevenson is marvellous as the preoccupied unhappy wife and doting mother; her Pamela is painfully real, and mothers may stand back in recognition of the involuntary motherly ties that connect us to our sons. Kevin Bishop is credible as Paul and I especially like Paul Rhys as Richard, the artist whose loneliness surrounds him like an inescapable halo. Allan Corduner is memorable as
Mansourian, in that he is perhaps the saddest and loneliest character of all. This is a story about expectations not being met, dreams being shattered and the rude awakening that comes like a slap in the face when you least expect it. And thereís the music. The beautiful piano music of Brahms,
Liszt, Scarlatti and Chopin touches us as only music can, and as an integral part of the story, impacts at a higher level. The ending may not please everyone, but I liked how it opens our minds, allowing our interpretations to be as broad as the universe. I laughed, I cried, I connected.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Spanish filmmaker Ventura Pons displays all the right intentions in this slightly laboured adaptation of a novel by David Leavitt, which was seeded by a simple incident: an elderly woman called Signora Mozzarella (true) was turning the pages for the pianist during a performance in the Teatro della Pergola in Florence, Leavitt spun that moment into a whole life, the life of Paul Poterfield (Kevin Bishop) a young man, who aspires to be a concert pianist. On the way up, he gets to be the page turner for his idol, the internationally successful concert pianist Richard Kennington (Paul Rhys). This meeting leads to a series of relationships, which stretch Paulís umbilical cord. Some of the early scenes are compelling and nuanced, but the film loses its way. The novel probably does the story more justice than the film, which truncates Paulís relationships with Kennington and his manager and another older man into nothing more than flings. Things arenít helped by Kevin Bishopís inability to convey the complexity of his feelings Ė or even suggest them - through his eyes or face (except when heís angered and confronted by his mother). Nor by Geraldine McEwanís - Paulís piano coach Novotna Ė woeful attempt at a Russian (?) accent, which occupies her concentration so much that she sticks to one single frozen expression, irrespective of the dialogue. His life as his motherís only remaining joy since her unfaithful husband left her, is one world we explore, and he is the bridge to the world of Kennington and his gay circle. The relationship with his mother is pivotal and well developed, yet we are never swept away by the story or the characters. If Ponsí intentions are well meaning, the execution lets him down; not in cinematic crafts, but in the emotional journey.
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FOOD OF LOVE (MA)
CAST: Kevin Bishop, Juliet Stevenson, Paul Rhys, Allan Corduner, Geraldine McEwan
PRODUCER: Ventura Pons
DIRECTOR: Ventura Pons
SCRIPT: Ventura Pons (from David Leavittís novel The Page Turner)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mario Montero
EDITOR: Pere Abadal
MUSIC: Carles Cases
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Aintza Serra
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Northbeach Film Distributors
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Sydney: October 31, 2002 (other states to follow)