When it falls on it, demonic possession bears similarities to divine possession. So who is canonized and who is exorcised? “A Banquet,” director Ruth Paxton’s first feature film, intelligently asks audiences to consider the overlap between reality and fantasy, psychosis and missionaryism.
The film follows the Hughes family, Holly (Sienna Guillory) and her daughters Betsey (Jessica Alexander) and Isabelle (Ruby Stokes), after the death of the patriarch. Betsey has a mysterious encounter in the woods that leaves her comatose and unable to eat, but she insists it’s not a mental disorder, and that hunger doesn’t hurt her. She said that she was chosen for a higher purpose. As her mother, Holly must decide whether to activate Betsey’s nascent dogma or institutionalize her.
It’s a pretty tiring watch. There are clear parallels between Hughes’ dynamics and that of a family suffering from addiction or debilitating mental illness; and Guillory, Alexander and Stokes open the story with virtuoso performances.
The movie’s slow-motion magic lies in the many questions it raises as it comes to a fitting, explosive ending. In other stories about the divine possession of women, like the coldness of Rose Glass.”Saint Maud, “It is possible to regard their prophets as blessed or delusional,”The Banquet” favors ambiguity. You’ll probably starve this movie for answers, but that hunger can be stimulating as well as burdensome.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/movies/a-banquet-review.html Review ‘A Banquet’: Hunger for a higher purpose