Wednesday, 13 May 2015

REVIEW - HUNGRY HEARTS (SAVERIO COSTANZO)


Situated somewhere between two genres, never fusing them as convincingly as it supposes it might, Hungry Hearts is a promising film in many attributes, though ultimately dissatisfying on the whole. The choice to style this otherwise character-based familial drama as an ominous psychological horror film is a uniquely artistic one, rooted more in director Saverio Costanzo's cinematic references than either in any other medium or in common sense; it's a gambit that he bets on succeeding, and his efforts are palpable. What innate horror resides in his basic scenario is overwhelmed, however, rather than amplified, by distinct stylistic elements whose presence suggests less a natural, original response and more an informed one - informed by the variety of titles that one can detect as influences. All this - the naff fish-eye lensing, the unnecessary Giallo-esque score etc. - spoils the intelligent work done elsewhere, including by Costanzo himself. Though he doesn't find a way to explicate the details of the film's central relationship with much sense of purpose or coherence, the scripting is astute, the delivery strong. Actors Adam Driver, Alba Rohrwacher and, in a smaller role, Roberta Maxwell are each vivid performers here, and seem to be striving for more straightforward ends than their director. The true value of Hungry Hearts lies in observing their skill, underplaying to maximum effect, and the true letdown of it is that much of that skill is undone when situated in that no man's land between compelling character drama and loopy Polanski-lite terror.