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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Let Them Eat
Let Them Eat
Other // Unrated // September 1, 2006
List Price: $19.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted January 3, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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The movie

Here's a suggestion for aspiring filmmakers: don't use rhyming verse unless your screenwriter is an outstanding poet. (Note to aspiring poets: don't rely on family members and friends to tell you if you're any good.) Let's face it: there are enough ways that a low-budget effort can go wrong on its own without it shooting itself in the foot in the first two minutes. In the case of Let Them Eat, though, the opening sequence is actually a fair indication of what to expect in the next 44 minutes. Let Them Eat is not all that bad when considered as an amateur effort; ironically, though, the technical competency of the camerawork and editing sets up an expectation of professionalism that sets the viewer up for a letdown. It asks to be treated as a full-fledged professional film, and... well, it fails.

Let Them Eat is the story of two women: Marie Antoinette meditating on her life on the eve of her execution, and Bella, a modern woman dealing with a struggling marriage and issues in her past. The film shifts back and forth between the two, with apparently a mystical connection being made between the two.

The two main problems with Let Them Eat are its script and its acting. The script is by far the worst aspect of the film. The dialogue is bad enough; it's stilted and awkward. We get conversations that start out with profound exchanges like "What do you want?" "You know what I want..." and go downhill from there. Methinks there were a few too many cheesy romance novels inspiring this film. But worse than anything else is the narrative voiceover. It's not just the introduction that thrashes out the plot in clumsy rhyming couplets... the "poetry" comes at regular intervals throughout the film. It's not just bad. It's pretentious, cheesy, and just... take my word for it, it's really bad. As soon as I started more or less getting used to the overall feel of the film, with the potential for maybe taking it seriously, WHAM! the poetry strikes again.

I do, actually, appreciate the idea of lacing a story together with poetry. I love poetry and read it for pleasure. It's not the inclusion of the poetry that I mind; it's the quality. As I re-read the back cover copy of the DVD, I noticed that it informs us that "laced within the story are beautiful spoken word poems that delve deep into the hearts and souls of our two heroines." Yikes. Let me assure you, it's only beautiful as compared to, say, nails being dragged across a chalkboard. (And anyway, spoken word poems as opposed to... what other kind of poems? Never mind, best not to think too hard about this.)

The acting is marginally better than the script, but that only makes it amateurish rather than actively dreadful. The sections of the film that are set in the present day are reasonably OK, if one cuts the actors some slack for having to speak the dialogue that they've been given. The sections that are set in the time of the French Revolution are, however, actively horrible. There's not even the slightest sense of reality.

In the category of minor evils, there's the obviously manipulative music and the melodramatic plot. These are, however minor elements in the trainwreck of Let Them Eat.

The DVD

Video

Let Them Eat appears in 1.33:1 format, which appears to be its original aspect ratio. The image is clean and clear, with generally good colors. A few outside scenes look a bit over-saturated, but in general the image looks natural.

Audio

The stereo soundtrack is adequate, supplying clear dialogue and crisp music. The background music often seems a bit stronger than it should be, but I think this is an artistic decision rather than a problem with the track.

Extras

The first special feature is a trailer for the film, which has the benefit of giving a good overview of what the film is like (it's a cheesy trailer with voiceover giving plot summary in bad rhyme). There's also a 15-minute featurette covering the private premiere screening of the film.

Final thoughts

I always feel a bit guilty when I give a really bad review to what's obviously a labor of love by an independent filmmaker. But my responsibility as a reviewer is to the readers who might be inclined to buy this DVD. If you go out and purchase Let Them Eat after reading this review, don't write me an email and complain; I warned you. What might (just might) have been an OK short film based on a melodramatic romance notion of a woman with emotional ties to Marie Antoinette (not that this is adequately explained in the film, mind you) is shipwrecked by the inclusion of the dreadful verse narration. I'm a literature person; I know good, decent, and bad poetry when I see it, and let me tell you, the voiceover poetry is in the "beyond bad" category. Well, it's all summed up in this: interesting idea, terrible execution. Skip it.

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