Saturday, 30 January 2010

Feed

It is my sincere hope that by writing this review I will purge this movie from my system.

Phillip is an cybercrime investigator in Australia. His job is to surf the net, looking for depravity. In the world of the film he is the man who discovered the German cannibal plot. Fresh off this victory, Phillip is back at work searching out the worst humanity has to offer and stumbles upon a "feeder's" website. A man in Ohio is feeding women to morbid obesity and Phillip, who is unsuccessfully trying to repress the horrific shock he suffered in Hamburg, becomes obsessed with finding the feeder. Putting his career on the line, Phillip arrives in Ohio to confront Michael Carter about his suspicions; he believes that Michael is not just feeding women, but intentionally killing them by feeding them too much.

The film opens with a title card that reads: Although the events depicted in this film are fictional, they are based on actual behaviours that are happening between consenting adults... right now. I'm not entirely sure if this is meant to simply comment on the varieties of sexual behaviours that exist in the world, or to criticize what the director believes are deviant sexual proclivities. Whatever the case, it still doesn't prepare you for what's coming. Not really.

The movie follows both Phillip and Michael as the two go about their business. A savvy webmaster, Michael knows that Phillip is interested in his site, and the two play a game of cat-and-mouse, online and off. But when Phillip finally cracks Michael's firewall (both the cyber and the real), he is completely unprepared to deal with what he finds. And though it comes as no surprise to us to learn that Michael feeds his former victims to his present lover, actually seeing it happen is another thing altogether.

Though not overly violent, gory, or sexually graphic, the film is totally exploitative. Catering to our morbid curiosity, in much the same way as TLC did with "One Ton Mom," One Ton Dad," and "One Ton Teen," Feed dares us not to look at and be disgusted with Deirdre, Michael's latest mistress. The movie isn't shy about showing us all of her, as Michael weighs, washes, and has sex with the enormous Deirdre.

In spite of what you or I may think of its content, Feed looks amazing. In contrast to the horrifying events that take place onscreen, the film is quite pretty. Adding to the style/substance dichotomy are the people themselves. Both Phillip and Michael are real hardbodies, and then there's the 600+ pound Deirdre, who is as soft as they come. The movie plays with and challenges our notions of visual beauty and aesthetics. Cinematically, Feed is an extremely well-executed film and the two male stars are pleasing to the eye. But neither Phillip nor Michael are nice on the inside, and this inner ugliness manifests, in part, as the impossibly fat Deirdre as well as in the relative filth in which the men live.

Deirdre is the centrepiece of the film. She is both Phillip and Michael's foil. Though Phillip is less interested in finding Deirdre than he is in confronting Michael, he obsessively monitors Deirdre's webpage in the hopes that it will bring him closer to Michael. Phillip has no real interest in understanding Michael, but he is inexorably drawn into Michael's world and he learns they are both deeply troubled by events from their past. Michael, for his part, is a control freak and by relinquishing all her power to Michael, Deirdre feeds into his need for power as he feeds her cheeseburgers and cupcakes. Michael justifies his behaviour to Phillip by explaining to him that he is freeing his women from cultural constructs of femininity, and helping them realize their full potential for beauty.

As for Deirdre, her willing participation in her fattening is the ultimate show of love. Though she has her misgivings, she allows Michael to feed her in increasingly aggressive ways. And when Michael gets angry with her, or just angry in general, she eats to please him. Having given up all agency, Deirdre is not really a person, but a vehicle for Michael's deviancy, and vessel to bear away Phillip's delicate sanity.

Feed is a challenging movie. Different from the other extreme films I've seen recently, Feed deals in an excess of pleasure and gratification. It's a lot easier to watch people get cut than slowly fed to death.

3 comments:

Vardulon said...

Thank you for writing this review, telling me things I never wanted to know about a movie I pray I never have to see.

Matt-suzaka said...

I thought Feed was going to be a pile of gross out crap, but I ended up enjoying it for what it was. There is some gross shit in there, but with that kind of subject matter, it's to be expected. Still, it is very restrained in comparison to what I expected and that was a nice, unexpected surprise.

And I agree about the style of the film...it looks great and has it's own unique style. It's definitely a movie worth a view for a fan of horror.

I love that you used purge, by the way!

The Divemistress said...

Lol, thanks Matt! Feed was a challenge for me, but I am glad I sat through it. You are right, it could have gone in a completely different direction, and I am so glad it didn't.