ON PAPER, Hungry Hearts scratches out as an intriguing domestic-horror situation: New mom Mina (Alba Rohrwacher), freaked out about the medical establishment, goes overboard trying to keep her baby "pure." Pretty soon she's banning cellphones and refusing to feed him food she hasn't grown herself. Daddy Jude (Adam Driver) is torn between respecting his wife and protecting his kid. Sure. Sounds like a dramatic reading of the Shit Portland Mamas Say Tumblr.
But Hungry Hearts places too much faith in its own aesthetic, the operating terms of which are "moody" and "claustrophobic." For the viewer, this translates to "tedious," particularly in the almost complete absence of character backstory. Why is Jude, ostensibly an engineer, deferring to Mina's gibberish parenting ideas? (It's also pretty tough to fathom why Jude doesn't take his clearly mentally ill wife to the hospital.)
Ideologically, I'm on board with a lot of the implicit points here: essential oils aren't medicine, "clean" eating is often disordered eating in disguise, and nothing in the world sounds crazier than someone earnestly explaining what an "indigo child" is. But the way Hungry Hearts links those beliefs to mental illness is disingenuous. Mina isn't just wacky in that familiar "keep chemicals out of my water" way; she's sick. She needs help. There's nothing ideological about it.