Montag, 1. September 2014

Venice Film Festival: Ich seh ich seh (Goodnight Mommy) / Hungry Hearts

Two twin boys who grow convinced that the woman returning from a facial plastic surgery is not their mother serves as the simple premise for Austrian writer/director duo Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala's horror tale "Ich seh ich seh (Goodnight Mommy)". Plot-wise rather insubstantial, the movie is largely incident-based as it follows the daily life of the three in a secluded villa and witnesses how the mutual abuse between mother and children escalates to horrific heights. Lacking a  narrative to drive things logically forward, the ritual of watching one disturbing anecdote after another gets tiring fast. A last-minute twist, while not entirely original or elegant, does manage to compensate for this lacking somewhat by flipping the story on its head and rouses interesting questions. By far the defining achievement of this feature debut, however, is the striking visualization. Stark, high-contrast lighting adds pressure to the already creepy atmosphere from the sleek, oppressively pedantic production design. Depicting unbelievable cruelty of the hair-raising sort, the final act is not for the faint of heart but catnip for genre-fans.

"Hungry Hearts" is a shockingly bad marital drama-turned-thriller by Italian writer/director Saverio Costanzo. Starting with a measly idea bloated into a tediously written screenplay, only to then be loudly directed to end up this unconvincing, unengaging, unappealing embarrassment of a movie. Revolving around a young couple battling over the right way to feed their new-born child (not kidding), we're supposed to just accept the mother believes in a vegan diet for her baby, coupled with a no-sunshine policy. Why she mistrusts and denies the entire medical profession is also never explained, so her self-righteous tantrums and protestations all seem unfounded and laughable. Even the dependably charming Alba Rohrwacher can't save such a one-note, roundly unreasonable character. Tonally it's all over the place, almost comically schizophrenic, but not in a disciplined, premeditated way. The picture also looks oddly dated, the director's choice to repeatedly use fisheye lens and fade-out cuts further makes a punishing experience that much less tolerable.  

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