Knut Hamsun's 1890 novel "Hunger," memorably adapted as a Cannes best actor-winning vehicle for Swede Per Oscarsson in 1966, does a whole lot less for Joseph Culp in this misbegotten digital feature. Reset in contempo L.A., pic makes sense only as a vanity acting showcase. Commercial prospects are nil.

Knut Hamsun’s 1890 novel “Hunger,” memorably adapted as a Cannes best actor-winning vehicle for Swede Per Oscarsson in 1966, does a whole lot less for Joseph Culp in this misbegotten digital feature. Reset in contempo L.A., albeit with scant logic or ingenuity, pic makes sense only as a vanity acting showcase — and it doesn’t flatter on that score, either. Commercial prospects are nil.

Protag is now a would-be scenarist chucked from his apartment for nonpayment of rent, sleepless and starving, pegging all hopes on his hand-written treatment left on the desk of a callous studio exec (lead’s vet actor pa, Robert Culp). Divorced from its turn-of-the-century, Norwegian bourgeoisie milieu, Hamsun’s proto-existential Portrait of the Artist as a Saintly Young Madman plays as pretentious and silly, particularly when the junior Culp’s perf retains a vague “period” look and manner utterly incongruous with real L.A. streets. Character’s fixation on an elusive Asian-American beauty (Kathleen Luong) results in some ludicrous scenes. Even within no-budget limits, helmer M. (Maria) Giese (who made a more professional debut with ’96 Brit soccer drama “When Saturday Comes”) falls well short of achieving stylistic or tonal cohesion.

Hunger

Production

A Market Street Prods. presentation. Produced by M. Giese, Joseph Culp. Executive producers, James Quill, Daniel Franklin. Directed, written by M. Giese, based on the novel by Knut Hamsun.

Crew

Camera (color, digital video), Jonathon Millman; editor, Sam Citron; production designer, Joshua Culp. Reviewed at San Francisco Independent Film Festival, Jan. 13, 2001. Running time: 101 MIN.

With

Joseph Culp, Kathleen Luong, Redmond Gleason, James Quill, T. Henry Amitai, Casper Andreas, V. Ray Bodie, Robert Culp.
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