Hunger (Drama, Thriller) (2023)
Director: Sitisiri Mongkolsiri
Writer: Kongdej Jaturanrasamee
Stars: Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying, Nopachai Chaiyanam, Gunn Svasti Na Ayudhya, Bhumibhat Thavornsiri
Working tirelessly for her family’s noodle joint, a young cook gets the opportunity of a lifetime to work under a notorious celebrity chef, serving the higher classes of Thailand.
The third of Mongkolsiri’s films sees a young woman hired by a ruthless chef, a rags-to-riches tale focusing on the food industry. It’s meant to be the initial Thai film to appear on Netflix, as they’re planning to present a total of six original Thai movies. It has been produced by Song Sound Productions and, as mentioned, distributed by Netflix.
As a young cook, Aoy (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) works at her family restaurant bearing the weight of their well-being on her shoulders. Until she’s approached by Tone (Gunn Svasti Na Ayudhya), the Junior Sous-Chef of Hunger, a kitchen serving the richest in the country led by Chef Paul (Nopachai Chaiyanam), a ruthless chef striving for perfection.
An observation of the wealthy as those below them strive to achieve their perfection. Providing experiences almost animalistic, as they devour the world oblivious to what is beneath them.
What seems to be almost a response to ‘’The Menu’’, if there’s anything Mongkolsiri’s ‘’Hunger’’ does right, is connecting cinema and food. Utterly stylised, there are not many films that merge it as brilliantly. While ‘’The Menu’’ did stand out, food was used as a subject—but not the subject. Thriller tension and flair came first, focusing on the chef. ‘’Hunger’’, while also picturing Chaiyanam’s Chef Paul as a vital figure, shows cooking and everything going into it.
Delivered with an obsession, the viewer is made to feel the stress of Chuengcharoensukying’s Aoy as she needs to perform her tasks without question and struggles to achieve the excellence required under Chef Paul. With Tone (Gunn Svasti Na Ayudhya) as her confident, other chefs working in the kitchen are introduced relatively well, despite not serving much importance for the development of the lengthy script.
Said script duration is daring, yet not boresome for even a minute. Some trimming of the fat contained on the fringes of ‘’Hunger’’ could’ve improved taste, yet the cinematography and behaviour within its performances are of similar level as some of the best recent pictures such as ‘’The Fabelmans’’, ‘’The Whale’’ and ‘’The Novice’’ which is some of the highest praise I can give, although putting oil in a pan to fry wagyu is unforgivable.
An unexpected yet charred experience. With obvious direction, as in a mandatory romance sub-plot that treads water and Aoy and Paul pitted against each other didn’t impress as much, while the attention to food, preparation and messages hidden within a salad of opulence create a flavour unlike even ‘’The Menu’’.
I hunger for foreign films like this.