Taut drama about extreme parenting choices taken too far.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hungry Hearts is an engrossing, nerve-wracking drama that focuses on the intense bond between a mother and her new baby. It shows what can happen when that connection is somewhat off kilter. There's brief nudity (breasts, woman's bottom) and some swearing (including "s--t" and "f--k"), as well as a little social drinking and some intense arguments -- including moments when a man strikes his wife. Parts of the film feature an infant in distress, which can be tough to watch, especially for parents.
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What's the Story?
Jude (Adam Driver) and Mina (Alba Rohrwacher) meet cute (they get locked in a bathroom) and fall in love fast, and when she unexpectedly gets pregnant, they decide to get married in a hurry. Their beautiful son is born before they truly get to know each other ... and Jude eventually begins to realize that Mina's distrust of doctors and unconventional diet could be affecting the baby's health. That puts him in a tough spot, since his bride insists that she instinctively knows what's best for the baby and is upset that he doesn't trust her. Soon Jude has to make a choice between the woman he loves and the baby who might need a protector.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how Hungry Hearts portrays parenthood. Does it seem realistic? Relatable? What do you think the hardest thing is about becoming a parent? How does this movie compare to others on the topic?
Does the film "take sides" regarding the two main characters? If so, whose side does it take, and why? And is that effective?
What would you do in Jude's situation, as he gradually realizes how Mina's actions are affecting their baby? Can you see how Mina's opinions lead her to the choices she makes?
- In theaters: June 5, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2015
- Cast: Adam Driver, Roberta Maxwell, Alba Rohrwacher
- Director: Saverio Costanzo
- Studio: IFC Films
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 112 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 13, 2023
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