Hungry Hearts (London Film Festival 2014) Review
A New York relationship drama called Hungry Hearts? It’s not what you expect. The English-language debut from Saverio Costanzo begins with a comical nosebleed, morphs into Rosemary’s Baby, and closes on... well, I won’t spoil it for you. Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Able Rohrwacher) are an affectionate couple with a shared sense of humour who fall in love when locked inside the unromantic bathroom of a Chinese restaurant. But love movies in mysterious ways: they marry, have a son, and it’s soon husband versus wife regarding the infant’s dietary habits. The crux: will the 3-month-old be raised a vegetarian like its parents? You’ll be surprised by the ensuing emotional mileage that borders on the horror genre.When Mina is informed by a psychic to expect an “indigo child” – a being with inherent supernatural powers – she tightly controls and underfeeds the baby for the first few months of its life, never allowing it to experience sunlight. Jude, bewildered, eventually sneaks their son to a doctor to find out the boy’s in danger of malnutrition. That’s when Hungry Hearts transitions into an over-the-top battle of two control freaks who love each other – but not necessarily enough for extreme circumstances. It’s not a healthy relationship: Jude secretly feeds the child at church, while Mina shrinks into a ghost; the size difference between Driver and Rohrwacher is especially apt. “My son threw up meat,” she complains, with the chosen pronoun signifying the split. Costanzo is especially playful with a camera that uncomfortably zooms in on faces, occasionally switching to a paranoid goldfish bowl lens. The sound design amps up the menace of street traffic and industrial neighbours; inside, claustrophobia sets in. In a supporting role, Jude’s mother (Roberta Maxwell) intrudes and adds to the rallying voices fearful of Mina’s New Age mothering philosophy. The baby, however, is just an unfortunate passenger. The unusual direction won’t be for everyone – judging by the heavy sighing in the screening – but Hungry Hearts is the most distinctive, haunting food fight I’ve seen in quite a while.’Hungry Hearts’ is playing London Film Festival 2014 as part of the Love strand. Ticket information can be found here.