Long-lost lovers. A tale of survival against all odds. A deserted island. Haven’t we seen this one before? Filmmaker Gabriel de Varona wholeheartedly begs to differ. Deliciously deviant in all the right ways with a unique affinity for dark humor, Love & Hunger is the offbeat epitome of edgy romances.
Hector (Roberto Marrero) and Olivia (Mireya Kilmon) meet nearly 30 years after their tumultuous road to the United States led them off-course to an inhospitable island. The short film then proceeds to intercut between timelines as the former romantic pair recount their adventures together. Marrero and Kilmon crackle on screen, amusingly narrating the events as they supposedly played out all those years ago. Their younger counterparts, Mario Ramil and Dayana Corton, are not only perfectly cast but stand on their own as characters doing whatever it takes to survive a nasty ordeal – that includes considering eating one another. The physical gags, musical numbers, and narration all work together harmoniously, creating an often uncomfortably hilarious atmosphere that only deepens as Hector and Olivia go into more detail, revealing some unresolved inner turmoil on both ends. Needless to say, they both bear their own scars, some emotional and some physical.
Cinematographer Ariel Ramon and de Varona (who also serves as the film’s editor), craft a unique visual language for the film, one that relies on dynamism to enhance the comedic beats and an artful, dreamy look to punctuate the natural beauty of the island. The plot moves along at a steady, if occasionally slow pace, as the real meat of the mystery only gets revealed towards the second half. Likewise, there’s a brief adjustment period involved in getting used to the short’s unique brand of humor. Yet as the story reaches its weirdly wonderful conclusion, it leaves a satisfying and heartwarming feeling that lingers.