Layout By Jacob Banog
Layout By Jacob Banog.

“Hunger” leaves you with an appetite for thought

Director Sittisiri Mongkolsiri takes us on a journey through the cutthroat culinary world where food is not just nourishment but a means of asserting power and control.

By Bianca Sanchez | Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Through stunning visuals and masterful storytelling, “Hunger” delves into the human condition, revealing how we all hunger for something–may it be money, love, or power–and how this longing can drive us into madness. The film, released in March 2023, explores the darker side of ambition, revealing how it can lead to obsession and even self-destruction.


The film opens with a glimpse of the kitchen staff at work, meticulously preparing ingredients for inspection by the demanding Chef Paul (Nopachai Jayanama), who heads the elite catering organization known as “Hunger.” With his cold gaze and unwavering expression, he is a tyrant in the kitchen. This is evident when he callously wrenches a live lobster from a tank and swiftly plunges a butcher knife through its head. He then serves the dish with a gravy sauce to his affluent clientele, who proceeded to devour it hungrily.


Elsewhere, in a modest noodle shop, Aoy (Chutimon Chuengcharoensukying) works tirelessly over an open flame, frying up Pad See Ew for her working-class regulars. Her unassuming eatery lacks the luxurious flair of Chef Paul’s enterprise, but Aoy takes great pride in carrying her father’s legacy of serving home-cooked meals made with love. 


Ton (Gunn Svasti), a member of Chef Paul’s Hunger crew, notices Aoy’s impressive culinary skills and urges her to join the high-end establishment as a new recruit. However, Aoy is torn between her loyalty to her family’s business and the tantalizing prospect of upward social mobility offered by Chef Paul’s offer.


Perform, be a chef

The standout feature of the film was undoubtedly the performance delivered by Chuengcharoensukying. She played her character with an understated grace that conveyed a range of emotions without needing to resort to over-acting. Through subtle facial expressions and changes in demeanor, she managed to communicate the inner turmoil of her character with veracity. From the tense interaction between her peers and Chef Paul to the joyous moments with her family, the way she held herself, and the manner in which she made use of her eyes, communicated more than words ever could. 


In addition to her outstanding acting, the movie was also visually striking. The cinematography was nothing short of magnificent, with each shot carefully crafted to create a sense of both beauty and tension. The scenes were skillfully composed to create a sense of atmosphere and suspense, making for a viewing experience that was simultaneously thrilling and captivating. 


However, at times the drama felt a bit too forced, with certain scenes feeling overly dramatic and unnecessary. There were also a few moments where the graphic nature of the film may have been too much for some viewers. Even with these minor flaws, it is hard to deny the artistry involved in the making of Hunger. Overall, it is an intriguing blend of Black Swan and Whiplash, with a little bit of Masterchef, well worth watching for both its cinematic beauty and powerful performances.


“The more you eat, the more you hunger”

Despite being contradictory in nature, this quote that was prominently displayed on Hunger’s website remains relevant to the entire film. Through its portrayal of various forms of hunger, the movie effectively showcases our protagonist’s hunger to be special. This is evident through her constant pursuit of positive feedback and relentless drive to improve herself.


Ironically, the team at Hunger caters to the wealthy elite, not to satisfy their hunger for food, but rather to satisfy their hunger for status and recognition. Chef Paul’s immense fame makes him a highly coveted commodity, with his services being the ultimate symbol of wealth and influence.


As more people vie for the opportunity to have Chef Paul cook for them, their hunger for his culinary expertise only grows stronger. With waitlists spanning up to a year, it is clear that his food is reserved exclusively for those who have the means to afford them, only for the wealthy, only for those who are hungry for him.


Meanwhile, Aoy finds herself consumed by ever-growing hunger.


The power of performance

It is a widely accepted notion that money brings power and influence, as we see it portrayed across various forms of media such as movies, TV shows, music, and social media. However, Hunger offers a unique perspective.


The film is a timely commentary on the state of our society, exposing how the allure of power and control can corrupt even the most talented and driven individuals. It is a gripping cinematic experience that challenges audiences to reflect on their own cravings and yearnings, and the consequences of indulging them. 


If you’re hungry for an intense and thought-provoking meal, Hunger is a must-watch!