HUNGRY HEARTS starts off slowly, which is one of its few drawbacks, but, like a slow burn, it leaves an indelible mark. We barely get to know the main characters -- and they barely know each other -- before they're struggling to care for an infant and are brought to a crisis point because they have different views on how to raise him. For Mina, who's a vegetarian, it's important that the baby also have a pure, meat-free diet. She also distrusts doctors, but she's clearly devoted to her son. Jude also loves his family, but he's worried sick when he discovers the baby is underweight and fading fast. Both parents are convinced they're acting in the baby's best interests, a position that leaves little room for compromise and that only serves to raise the stakes, and the tension, even more.
Director Saverio Costanzo starts with straightforward camera angles that speak of a couple/family in contentment, but soon everything appears distorted, as if seen too close up, through a fish-eye lens, or via security camera angles. Music and sound are used sparingly but masterfully, heightening our discomfort. We aren't just viewers, but voyeurs whose loyalties are pushed one way and then another. Driver and Rohrwacher are both brilliant -- they've won awards for their work here -- as a couple simultaneously in love and in pain. The ending, when it comes, makes sense, but tragically so. Expect your feelings of unease to persist long after the credits roll.