Film reviewers are often portrayed as recommending cryptic or difficult movies. In “Feast of the Epiphany,” Michael Koresky, Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman have actually made one. All have written as critics, but Reichert and Zaman are primarily filmmakers.
The movie begins with an audition of sorts, with actors talking to the camera about their lives. This, it turns out, is a prologue, a rehearsal for a drama, soon to unfold. It concerns Abby (Nikki Calonge), seen feverishly preparing for a dinner party for Sarah (Jessie Shelton), a friend she hasn’t seen for some time. As Abby’s other guests arrive, everyone alludes to the sad, but unspecified, fate of Sarah’s romantic partner. A glimpsed volume of Sartre reinforces the notion that hell is other people; nearby is James Joyce’s “The Dead,” and sure enough, to paraphrase Joyce’s ending, outside, snow is falling faintly in Brooklyn.
The fireworks that accompany Sarah’s entrance aren’t themselves a surprise. What is strangest comes afterward. In a single cut — from a full moon to a sunrise — “Feast of the Epiphany” turns into an utterly different movie: a documentary about Roxbury Farm in Kinderhook, N.Y., the fulcrum of a community-supported agriculture operation.
How the two halves illuminate each other is left obscure. Both raise questions about meals and about the obligations of groups, and there are visual and musical echoes of one part in the other. The overall arc is oddly peaceful, but the movie’s distinctiveness is largely conceptual. It is easier to like “Feast of the Epiphany” as an idea for an uncompromising film than it is to reconcile its pretensions.
Feast of the Epiphany
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes.