Eating (1990) Poster

(1990)

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don't offer these women a cherry pie!
petershelleyau11 November 2001
One has to wonder about Henry Jaglom's mother, when he dedicates a film about women suffering from eating disorders to her. This is one of Jaglom's more successful efforts since there is some dramatic conflict amongst the cinema verite talkfest that is his trademark. One might even mistake this film as a documentary with all the to-the-camera discourse. Otherwise his camera is thankfully still, aided by the excuse of a Frenchwoman making a documentary at an exclusively female (and enormously populated) birthday party. Maybe it's a very "L.A." thing but it's shocking how so many beautiful women have food issues, and the association they make with food and sex, and food and love, makes for a compelling (for Jaglom) social study. He begins uncertainly, as the women gather. Jaglom gets a little carried away with cross-cutting, and there is a definite lesbian subtext which turns out to be misleading. But as the film develops our initial judgment of the women presented, as shallow and stupid gives way to depths of feeling and marvel at the openness and emotional accessibility of the female species. As the eldest of the group and the mother of Helene (Lisa Richards), who resides in the house where the celebrations occur, Frances Bergen represents the voice of reason and the sounding board for the confessions. Jaglom cleverly maintains our empathy for her, aided by Bergen's wonderful naturalness, even when her reaction to news of an infidelity defines the survival strategies of women of her generation. In spite of the heaviness of the subject, there is much humour to be found, partly from the women's own insight into their behaviour, and also from the idea of having Helene seek out the mistress under the guise of mingling. Richards' performance improves considerably after she stops pecking. As her predatory best friend, Gwen Welles adds some amusing spite to the proceedings. Her demonstration of the use of a present of anger-releasing padded poles gets a big laugh. It's no surprise to learn of Welles' bulimia since she looks anorexic, and she is about the only one who doesn't seem to think they are "fat". When the birthday cake is cut, no-one wants to eat it. Since the cast is so large some actors get lost in the mosaic, but mention should be made of Toni Basil in Carmen Miranda get-up as an actress quitting her agent ("If Michael Jackson can fire his father ..."); Aloma Ichinose who has a great riff about smoking; and Mary Crosby looking like a fawn and being very I-shot-JR in a bathroom confrontation. I particularly liked the line "I'm looking for a man who can excite me as much as a baked potato".
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7/10
Too much, too many, too repetitive
wisewebwoman19 November 2004
Too many actresses - it was very confusing being inside Henry Jaglom's head. This mockumentary style movie obsesses on food and women all intertwined with sexuality.

Even Frances Bergen who plays a type of baffled sane matriarch looks as if she has had her problems with food in the past but in this movie she is astonished at the obsessive compulsive behaviour around food at this party she attends for her daughter's fortieth birthday.

Maybe she doesn't get out much in the shallow body-and-youth culture that is California. I would say that Henry was deliberate in keeping this movie without any depth. He just stockpiled it with far too many women (I lost track, they all looked vaguely alike and whined in the same sad key).

Go read a book, ladies, visit an art gallery, recite poetry, read for the blind. Far too much time on your hands. Get interesting. Maybe that was the point?

7 out of 10 for its daring - though it had to be a flop at the box-office.
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6/10
30 great minutes!
oruboris30 May 2014
There are 30 minutes of this film that will fascinate you, hold you spellbound, totally engage your empathy and emotions.

Unfortunately, these moments are scattered randomly in a movie that's 110 minutes long, and the remaining 80 minutes leave a lot to be desired, with stilted, rushed dialog that almost seems like it's being read from cue cards, characters who come and go so quickly that even when what they say touches you, no lasting sense of connection is forged.

The big issue is the structure itself: 'Martine' is shooting a documentary about the relationship between women and food at her friend's birthday party, giving the characters a chance to deliver monologues straight to the camera that are often fascinating, even riveting. But there are too many people, too many words, too much going on between the characters outside what the documentary camera sees. This could easily have been addressed by giving Martine an assistant, someone to actually work the camera and spy on the party's goings on when Martine is elsewhere. But without that convention, we are often uncertain what is documentary and what is 'real' life.

There is so much here that doesn't matter-- why a triple birthday, for women turning 30, 40 and 50 when the issues of age and aging are largely in the back ground? Why so many people? Why so many conflicts and love stories when the central love affair between women and food is far more interesting than any of the interpersonal stuff?

Several fine performances here-- notably Frances Bergen and Beth Grant, though Mary Crosby at her radiant best is given little to do.

Worth seeing for the 30 good minutes, but sadly disappointing in so many ways... ultimately, it's a man putting words in women's mouths about what it's like to be a woman, and it's certainly not a comedy. I hope a woman film maker chooses to make the actual documentary at the center of this movie-- that's a film I'd love to see.
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2/10
So bad.
wendy-0115012 January 2020
I actually waited years to watch this film. What a disappointment. It should have been 5 minutes long and it must have had an elementary teacher's budget because the acting is well...bad. It's so bad, you can't tell if it's scripted or not. Nelly Alard as Martine, the French guest filming all this whining, is the only actual talent among the bunch. I'm not even going to count Frances Bergen. She shouldn't even be there. Why in the world did she agree to do this? The point that women are obsessed with food and eating (yes, they're two different things) and obsessed with every square inch of our bodies, and our mothers affect how we feel about food, eating, and every square inch of our bodies, is established and then beaten to death multiple times. I wouldn't have been able to abide long with any of these women. I wanted to slap them. I forced myself to watch it to the end and this is the only film review I've ever posted, I think. But then I'm really hungry right now so I may have and just forgotten.
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turgid, sexist, self-indulgent, and boring
scrybbler28 June 2004
Travesties like this give indie film a bad name.

Jagblom had his cast improvise most of the material, with a rough scripted story structure. Sometimes this works; here, it's a dismal failure.

The riffing about weight gets old fast, and is laughably preposterous to anyone who isn't an LA actress (i.e., most of his cast). Jagblom's "woman-sensitive" directing is almost immediately exposed as lecherous posturing, as his beautiful star is trotted out topless for no reason within the first 15 mins. Nice rack, Henry, but what about the movie?!?

Worst of all, it's just horribly boring. None of the characters seem worth following, and the film does a terrible job focusing on a few so you can get a toehold on some drama. For comparison, I enjoy female-friendly films like "Mystic Pizza," "Moonstruck" and "Clueless." I love foreign films. I would've walked out on "Eating", but sadly it was a rental.

Central conflict? Woman vs. pastry. Cinematography? Bland and undistinguished. Best use for Eating? Doorstop.
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10/10
Wow...
elisereid-2966625 January 2020
I saw this for the first time last night, and that is all I can say...wow. This is an incredible symphony of an emotional movie. The fact that I, too, have a history of an eating disorder really brought out my emotions for it (though some who suffer from this disease may find it triggering-I found it cathartic). The sympathy shown for the characters, especially Nelly Alard, is nothing short of extraordinary. It's even more incredible to me when you consider that it was made by a man.

There isn't a whole lot in the way of plot, but that actually works to the movie's advantage, allowing it to focus on the characters, who drive the film. At times it is hard to follow what's going on, but that makes it all the more real to me-it gives the feeling of actually being at the party being shown.

Some may find Henry Jaglom's style to be on the indulgent side, but given the subject matter, (for me anyway) it was appropriate here. I was unfamiliar with most of his body of work before seeing this (I had only seen his segment in "Movie Madness", which he later disowned), but my interest is now piqued and I will seek out more of his films if I can.
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