Hunger 2023 Movie Review
I remember Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying from 2017’s Bad Genius and here too, she’s phenomenal. While the easy (and obvious) way to look at Hunger is Whiplash meets The Menu, the writing and direction are both pretty solid. They have an interesting tale to tell here; one that doesn’t just stick to the hierarchy in a fine-dining restaurant’s kitchen. Of course, those bits are as hard-hitting as they come, but the socio-economic layers that the writing offers, sweeten the pot. The protagonist’s character arc is clear-cut, and the transitions that she goes through – physically, emotionally, and financially – are always at the film’s forefront.
Not only is the film super engaging, it makes you root for the protagonist’s eventual realizations. How far are you willing to go to stay relevant and successful in the modern era? And how much success and relevance is too much? Very pertinent questions like these are answered through fiery exchanges between the leads, against the backdrop of deliciously cooked food (and some grotesque consumption). The film also doesn’t shy away from doing its bit on “eating the rich” and speaking in detail of their high-profile perversions. From a thematic perspective, Hunger has as much in common with the Malayalam film Ustad Hotel as the films I mentioned above. Nothing comes above family, I guess?
The scene at the hospital between Nopachai Chaiyanam and Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying is spectacular. Not only does it open eyes to the antagonist’s understanding of life, but it also throws darts at the protagonist for the choices she’s about to make. Same goes for the climactic showdown between the two, but this section treats celebrity connoisseurs as objects of feeding, hence the lessened impact. If Netflix is doing something right, it’s in giving Thai cinema the funding it needs to make competent drama-thrillers like this with great production values and cinematography.