A Feast of Man
Sneering at coastal elites has never been more delightful than it is in A Feast of Man, the scrumptious debut feature by Screen Slate's own Caroline Golum, playing today, and through this month, at Spectacle. Following the mysterious death of the young master Gallagher (Laurence Joseph Bond), friends Dickie (Jesse Rudoy), Wolf (Chris Shields), Judy (Katey Parker), and Judy's fiance, Ted (Frank Mosley), meet Gallagher's French lover, Arletty (Marleigh Dunlap), and his loyal butler, James (Zach Fleming), at the late aristocrat's mansion overlooking the Hudson for a reading of his will. Only, things don't go quite as Wolf, the executor of the estate, had planned — Gallagher has left behind a secret video message for his pals insisting that they will only receive their parcel of his fortune if they collectively agree to eat his body. The group has until the end of the weekend to reach a decision.
A hilarious rosé-fueled comedy of manners ensues, following a deliciously quotable screenplay co-written by Golum and Dylan Pasture ("if you can't beat 'em, order a veal parm!"). Each of the guests brings the weight of his or her relationship and history with the enigmatic Gallagher to the table, oftentimes resulting in an uncomfortable rubbing of elbows — between Gallagher's ex, Judy, and his current lover, Arletty, for example, or between Ted and, well, everyone. When a peasant-chic "forest ranger" (Jennifer Golum) stumbles into the den at one point, the dinner conversation that follows is as wickedly indicting as Whit Stillman's best.
Of course, looming over this satirical smorgasburg is the question of, will they go through with it? As the deadline approaches, you begin to lose any doubt that there is a line that Dickie, Wolf, Ted, Judy, and Arletty would refuse to cross when it comes to honoring their friend's last wishes (well, and a million bucks, give or take New York state taxes). With straight-faced performances by a standout cast, A Feast of Man will have you alternatively snorting and recoiling — if not from disgust, then from, perhaps, the familiarity of some of these Volvo-trashing elites. Now that's entertainment.