Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Hunger (1983) ***

David Bowie died recently, so I've been listening to his stuff a lot lately, and then the idea of watching “The Hunger” came up. All I knew about this movie is that Bowie plays a vampire, and that there's a lesbian sex scene between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve. What more do you need to know, really? If those two things aren't enough to make you want to watch it, then it probably isn't for you.

“The Hunger” dispenses with some of the tropes of vampire movies, including the stupid teeth. Deneuve's Miriam and Bowie's John just carry a little knife around their neck for when they want to open up someone's throat. They also have no problem with the sun. They do thrive at night, however, and the film starts with an artsy sequence of the two picking up a couple of victims at a nightclub where the band Bauhaus is playing “Bela Lugosi's Dead.” When they aren't drinking blood, Miriam and John spend their time playing music, being stylish, and taking hot showers together. John is looking forward to an eternity of this, so he is shocked to find himself starting to age. Miriam is not so shocked. She, it turns out, is the senior vampire, and for some reason, the junior vampires she creates only last a few hundred years. She has seen this happen to several lovers, but rather than supporting John through his painful dissolution, she distances herself from him. When John seeks help from Sarah, a doctor who does research into aging, Miriam starts to fall for Sarah. Without giving away any spoilers, I will just say that John's fate ends up being a powerful metaphor for how it feels to be dropped by your lover.

“The Hunger” is an art film, slow-paced at times, and not for everyone. It's a wonderful and intense movie, however, beautifully filmed in that gauzy, '80's style. The confusing ending was tacked on, presumably to suit a broader audience and to set up a possible sequel. Otherwise, though, the film is worth checking out, and that Sarandon/Deneuve lesbian scene alone is worth the price of admission.

3 stars out of 5

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