Feast [2021] ‘MUBI’ Review: An insightful yet frustrating Feature

Feast 2021

Tim Leyendekker’s debut Feast, which is now playing on Mubi, opens with extremely grainy footage of flesh in close-up. It is impossible to take your eyes away from the screen- it instantly catches the senses. The ominous, distracting score immediately sets the tone- perhaps a tad too much for comfort. But then, comfort is not a word you should expect out of a feature that is based on true events that took place in Holland in 2005 when three Dutch men drugged the guests and infected them with their own HIV-positive blood in their party. Tense and unnerving in its squeamish potential to mutate into something completely unpredictable- docu-fiction, surrealism and even newsroom indulgence, make Feast a strangely unforgettable experience.

Feast starts off with a single shot, static sequence that goes on for ten minutes. An unnamed female inspector coolly unpacks each and every object from the scene of the crime (which we know not yet) and lays out in the table. It contains dildos, drugs, anal beads and coke cans. Leyendekker follows this with an extended sequence places three men within a frame and their future selves watch them as they go on rambling about the power of love, the reason behind choices and death. The discussion goes on for more than fifteen odd minutes, simply placing the viewers as a passive observer thrown into the bizzare mishmash of reflection. The men talk about crime with a sense of need and lyricism, almost like a preconceived poetry session is at play. The observer throw their own comments outside the glass wall. There is no passion that begins to coagulate here, and to be succinct, neither will it ever be.

Feast 2021

Feast is an accumulation of such stretched moments that take their own time to find its own voice. The unjustifiable rationale of desires sits heavily in these loosely attached sequences. To try to connect rationally with them is a perspective that is better left behind. In fact, Feast which is co-written by Leyendekker and Gerardjan Rijnders, makes this argument throughout its narrative, built on the logic that there has to be some level of sensible madness that tests the patience. It is built out of a desire that hits an altogether different kind of note. The mis-en-scene is deliberately heavy-handed. Feast, is therefore, never interested in trying to linearly explore a possibility, but rather trace the ways in which fiction mingles with fact and vice versa. These are just sick men, who openly share their desire to inject their own infected blood in someone else’s body.

To achieve a distinct set of perspective, Leyendekker ropes in seven different cinematographers. The result is absurdly indelible in terms of effect, but imminently disappoints in terms of execution. This is no Rainer Maria Fassbender in its theatrical underlining, where metaphorical dialogue and philosophical musings feel dangerously forced and out of breadth. The entire sequence to describe whether an infected flower can destroy another flower is needlessly prolonged with to figurative versions of the main narrative. To make its point, the documentary style expansion of the symbiotic relationship between viruses and bodies that host them gives a raw, unerring look at the scientific as well as philosophical proceedings Feast is so inclined towards. Viewers might not respond kindly to such indications and narrative diversions, and Leyendekker seems to have accepted that and moved on.

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Feast never aims at a uniform sense of narrative threads, but deliberately picks out sources and related episodes. It results into a strangely hypnotic film that hits as well as misses, never succumbing to formal expectations. There’s another extended sequence at the end- when a collaborator in the crime, whose face appears blurred, expresses the passivity of the victims and describes the party as “beautiful”.’‘Love is lethal but never criminal,” he says. Where does he see himself then?

Leyendekker seems to be interested in ideas rather than characters, moments rather than scenes.There is no one solution to a problem, no one way of looking at what transpired as an act of shocking inhumanism. Feast is a deliberately obtuse, frighteningly uncharacteristic film that cuts deep to the debauchery of the event. It does miss a few beats on the way, inevitably. But when it hits the mark, Feast is never less than bracingly unforgettable.

Feast (2021) Official Trailer

Feast (2021) Links:  IMDb, MUBI
Director:  Tim Leyendekker
Cast: Trudi Klever, Eelco Smits, Koen Van Kaam, Kuno Bakker
Santanu Das

Santanu believes that in real life, there are names that surprise us because they don't seem to suit the person at all. But for the love of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and The Double Life of Veronique~ names can evoke a submission to the unreal.