"Hungry Hearts", by Italian director Saverio Costanzo, is one
of two Italian films shown so far this week that are among 20
films competing for the top Golden Lion award at the world's
oldest film festival.
It stars Adam Driver, who will be in the next "Star Wars"
series, and Italian actress Alba Rohrwacher as his wife.
The film, which was shot for a budget of under 1 million euros
($1.3 million), starts off in rom-com style when Driver's
character Jude, who works as an engineer, and Rohrwacher's Mina,
who works at the Italian embassy, are both accidentally locked
in the toilet of a Chinese restaurant.
They hit it off, get married and have a child, upon which Mina's
fixation on cleanliness, which extends to having Jude wash his
hands whenever he enters their apartment, becomes psychotic.
She only feeds vegetables she grows herself in a rooftop garden
to the baby, whom a fortune teller has told her may be the
reincarnation of a spirit from another world. She forbids any
meat or dairy products, and will not let Jude take him to a
doctor, whom she mistrusts.
When Jude finally gets the baby to the doctor one day when Mina
is out, the doctor says the child's malnourishment is life
threatening. This leads to a confrontation between mother and
father that quickly escalates into near "Rosemary's Baby"
Jude takes the baby out for a walk, to feed him meat on the sly,
but on their return Mina gives the child a laxative to be sure
the meat is expelled.
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Francesco Bollorino, editor of psychiatryonline.it, said after a
screening that although the film has a very "movie-like" ending, its
portrayal of the mother, who thinks she is doing the best for the
child even though those around her thinking she is killing it, was
"The borderline between health and insanity is difficult to see in
this kind of case," he said, adding that diet fads and new
lifestyles have made it even more complicated for people to
determine what is or is not the right thing to eat.
Director Costanzo, whose screenplay is based on a novel by Marco
Franzoso, said he had been drawn to the story because it seemed to
"It tastes like a true story but I do not know if this has happened
in reality or not," he said.
In an online review, trade publication Variety said the film "starts
off with one of the more delightful opening scenes of recent years,
but then, soon after the half-hour mark, the once-charming protags
(protagonists) and their increasingly irrational behavior turn
(Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
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