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Martin I. Petrov


Cine-voyeur. Festival traveller currently based in Glasgow, UK. 

Festival director at WoFF: World of Film International Festival Glasgow. 

Festival Coordinator at MIAFF: Montreal International Animation Film Festival 

Writing reviews, articles and a passionate interview lover. 


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Hungry Hearts: Film Review

 

Hungry hearts, dir. Saverio Costanzo, Italy 2014 Venezia71 

An Italian girl and an American boy meet accidentally in a Chinese restaurant in New York. The amusement of the first conversation is a corny, lighthearted lead to their upcoming future as a couple. Giving you a plain dose of a typical love story, Hungry hearts tricks you with its misleading rom-com opening, giving an under the belt punch with what's about to follow. 

 

 

Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) make a conventional New York couple, living the dream of being together and building a dream for the future. Mina suddenly finds out that she has to move away for work and the happiness is swiped away, only to find out some weeks later that she is pregnant and another unplanned event changes their common life forever. But thank god, in this case forever means just 9 months. 

 

Shortly after the child's birth Jude discovers that Mina is obsessed with the idea of cleansing the baby from the toxic environment it's raised in by feeding it with oil that prevents its growth. Scared for the child's health, he secretly consults a doctor and a social worker and is confronted with lifetime decisions, where the word family no longer stands on the front line. 

 

Costanzo builds a strong maternal figure, a character for which is hard to decide if compassion or resentment is the most right to feel. On the ground of overprotectiveness and love, the young mother develops an obsession which soon transforms her into a monstrous contemporary version of Medea, ignoring the stimuli coming from the world outside the apartment. Determined that she knows better her child’s need, independently of the proof for its malnutrition, Mina establishes a barrier between her husband and herself, monitoring and interpreting every single move as a harmful attack. Alba Rohrwacher’s transformation from a girl next door to a an utterly depressed caricaturesque  figure. 

 

Although never explained clearly, Mina’s state seems like an intense form of postpartum psychosis, a condition when a mother suffers from severe depression and is unable to control her emotions which might result in hurting the newborn. In terms of presenting the full potential of the illness and the the psychotic behaviour which occurs gradually, Costanzo fills up the linear diegesis with unpredictable details that happen to maintain the smoothness and to give a conventional yet well-developed storyline. Some balanced indoor and outdoor shots, all in wintery and cold days, contribute to a moody, dark and depressive atmosphere, only disturbed by mostly silent dialogues. 

 

Clearly stating his intentions, the Italian director starts missing the point towards the end by integrating some wanna-be horror details, when Mina starts seeking her child, transferred to Jude’s mother for protection. Ended up with a sit-com/thriller effect, the result is hilariously off-putting, smashing the believability of the previous development. 

 

Hungry hearts scratches the surface several times hoping to find an interesting angle to catch on, but although the title finds an efficient explanation, the film hardly manages to feed the soul. 

 

 

 

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