In 2005 there were many brief spikes in the media consciousness of the Western world. The one that concerns us here is not by any stretch a zeitgeist moment, more a culmination at a point in time of tabloid stories, mainstream documentary and pushed awareness of a public health agenda.

Increasingly the issue of diet and its subsequent obesity has been brought into view by many organisations and authorities. The message is loud and clear, hammered home by many a film and TV documentary, and this issue, of course, dovetails nicely with the West's fixation on the slim "body beautiful", images of which are the basic bricks of modern advertising, film, magazines, porn, the Internet, etc.

When an awareness of such things reaches a certain critical mass, its weirder extremities also get an airing. So it was that we got TV documentaries on the feeder/gainer phenomenon - men frequently and dotingly over-feeding their partners so they gain massive amounts of weight, to grossly immobile proportions, while posting their stats and videos of the feeding on the Internet. Very, err, big in America, apparently.

Well, if you build it, they will come...

So it wasn't long before a movie, based on the feeder/gainer relationship, was served up. Brett Leonard gives us Feed, rushed out to coincide with the blipping cholesterol-induced media pulse

Cyber crime cop Richard (Jack Thompson) starts to investigate one such feeder, Michael (Alex O'Loughlin), and his website that's taking bets on when the body of his beloved gainer, Deirdre (Gabby Millgate), will finally cark it. Nice.

No, Richard doesn't think so either and so tries to call time on the love canteen.

As a plot, it's a very simple cat-and-mouse story of calculated killer/lover against impassioned cop/unhinged vigilante. Leonard works hard to keep it as contemporary as possible, with plenty of budget digital camerawork flashing around, in and out of focus, bleached and multi-angled, to convey modernity, but this comes best with Keiran Galvin's script. His screenplay doesn't allow room for many bods, but does squeeze in a couple of interesting glances at today's menu of romantic and sexual relationships.

Power and control features heavily, especially in Richard's fraught romantic tryst with empowered siren Mary (Marika Aubrey). Who's abusing who? Is it abuse? If a partner is consenting to everything, such as massive overeating by hosepipe, isn't that their right? Whose business is it to get involved in someone else's relationship? What is physical beauty anyway, rather than the stereotypical images we're force-fed throughout the day? Discuss.

Feed throws up a number of interesting points, so it's disappointing when it descends into pat psychobabble histrionics to bring things to a neat conclusion. There are committed performances from both the leads, which fit well with the alternative B-movie feel. This was never going to be a mainstream hit, so they go all out for off-kilter personality kookiness.

The emblazoned credit of "Supersize Me meets Silence Of The Lambs" is more than a soupcon misleading. Yes, there are disturbed people. Yes, there's puke-inducing burger eating, but there's neither the depth, nor the insight, of either here, rather acknowledged nods to the themes of those established successes.

Horror movie? Not particularly. More a "queasy movie."

In the end, you definitely feel you've eaten, but, like fast food, it goes away quickly and you realise it wasn't actually very substantial.

Perhaps, Feed's existence is its most powerful testament. You'd only get this film, or indeed this feeder/gainer phenomenon at all, in a self-indulgent and corpulently comfortable first world culture that has enough excess to make such abuse possible in the first place.

Bon appetit.

Reviewed on: 14 Jun 2006
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Easy queasy flick about big being beautiful.
Amazon link

Director: Brett Leonard

Writer: Kieran Galvin

Starring: Jack Thompson, Alex O'Loughlin, Gabby Millgate, Patrick Thompson, Sherly Sulaiman, Matthew Le Nevez, Marika Aubrey

Year: 2005

Runtime: 96 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia


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If you like this, try:

Super Size Me