However, if ‘Hunger’ builds up this expectation from the first few scenes, it fails spectacularly at meeting them.
The movie tries hard to paint Chef Paul’s character as a menacing figure and yet offers his character no nuance or depth. He saunters in and out of scenes, barking profanities at his staff and looking on with disdain as his clients eat and does very little else. His relationship with Aoy (who is established as the lead) also remains very one-dimensional, with the former mostly berating the aspiring chef. He has no actual lessons to give or techniques to impart.
In an unintentionally comical scene, he tells Aoy to “trial and error” her way into cooking a Wagyu steak.
Similarly, supporting characters remain indistinguishable from each other, dissolving in the background like pawns on a chessboard. Only the junior sous chef as Tone stands out in the few genuine moments in the film, where he attempts to give Aoy cooking lessons behind the scenes – later on becoming her romantic interest.
The film tries to add weight to its storyline by delving into the socioeconomic disparities between Thailand’s working class and the elite that Chef Paul cooks for but adds very little to the discourse apart from establishing that the disparity exists.
However, one of the bigger letdowns in the movie is the food itself. You could forgive a chef-centric movie for an uninteresting plot line if the food it featured inspired wonder or awe or had voyeuristic value but most of the dishes that Chef Paul prepares makes you want to compare it to the food you probably had in a local restaurant that shut a few years ago.
The cinematography and the score in the movie is done well but offers no respite from the feeling of general dread that is prevalent throughout the film. The duel between Aoy and Chef Paul ends on a scene that seems very Gossip Girl inspired and further leaves an unsatisfactory aftertaste to the overall experience of watching Hunger.
We recommend you watch an episode of The Chef’s Table: Pizza instead.
(for the cinematography and for the opening scenes which showed potential)