Not A Classic Thriller-Type Movie, But Decent Enough
"Hungry Hearts" starts out strongly. The opening few minutes is set in a bathroom in the basement of a Chinese restaurant. Mina and Jude (total strangers at the time) somehow get trapped in there together when the door gets jammed - just as he's rendered the bathroom - well - let's just say it didn't smell very fresh. It was actually a fun and humorous way to introduce the two protagonists of the movie. But it should be noted that the opening scene really is the only fun and humorous scene of an otherwise very heavy and even at times depressing movie. Which isn't to say that it wasn't good, but the opening few minutes doesn't really set us up for the rest of the film, at least in terms of its tone. It's also not really what I would call a thriller, even though it's billed as a thriller. A psychological drama - tense at times, perhaps - but it really doesn't have all that many thrills.
After the opening scene the movie settles down for a little while, basically showing us rather quickly the evolution of Mina and Jude's relationship. They sleep together, they fall in love, she gets pregnant, they get married, they have a baby boy. All that happens in rather quick succession, and it's after the birth of the baby that the movie develops its more tense atmosphere.
Basically, Mina and Jude disagree about how to raise a child. It seems to start when Mina is told by some sort of psychic that her child is "special - an "indigo baby" (some sort of silly new age idea that I had never heard of until I watched this.) Mina treats the baby strangely. She weans him very early, won't feed him any meat or protein, won't take him outside into the sunlight. It's all rather bizarre. Jude finally gets worried because the baby isn't growing. A doctor tells him the baby is undernourished, etc., etc. The two find themselves at odds over how to raise the child - which isn't all that unusual. Different parents have different parenting styles - but usually it's a conflict between the parents, with no real harm done to the child. But in this case, Mina is hurting the child. And she's doing damage to herself. She's a vegan, but more than that I thought there were suggestions that she had an eating disorder. There were references to her wasting away, and director Saverio Costanzo used some very effective camera angles that accentuated how thin she was, which suggested that she was mentally ill. Because this is billed as a thriller, you keep expecting that angle to become front and centre, but it really doesn't. There's some scenes where the suspense is built especially through the use of music - and you expect something to happen, but then it dissipates - until the end, when something shocking does indeed happen. It wasn't what I was expecting, but I did think it was pretty good.
Alba Rohrwacher was the actress who played Mina - and she was very good in the role; completely believable. Her accent at times made it hard to capture some of the dialogue completely, but she did a fine job, and - to me - her performance was the highlight of the movie. Adam Driver as Jude was probably more central to the story. Jude was torn between his love for Mina and his concern for his child. Driver didn't take anything away from the movie, but I didn't think he nailed his part as well as Rohrwacher did hers.
If you're expecting a classic type of thriller, this will probably disappoint you. But it's not a bad movie. It's well acted and it raises some valid issues about different parenting styles - albeit taken to an extreme. (7/10)
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