Film Review: Land of Hunger

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Starring Jim Hawks


Natural disaster, economic and social collapse, the crumbling of the federal system, and in the middle of this post-U.S.A. landscape, a lone hero in a journey of redemption. Land of Hunger, starring Jim Hawkes in the lead role of Frank, was critically acclaimed upon its release. Last night at the SAG Awards proved its worth, with Jim Hawkes taking home the award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role, a category that included heavyweights Gary Oldman and Denzel Washington, as well as newcomers Daniel Kaluuya and Timothée Chalamet.

The movie is set in 2036, in the aftermath of a series of events that has left the country disintegrated, and follows the journey of ex-marine Frank Baptiste as he travels from L.A. to Detroit to be reunited with his two sons. Along the way he sees for the first time how America looks in its new form. Native American reservations have grown in size, as tribes have armed themselves and have taken back ground after the state and federal forces lost power and backing; work is scarce and draws a population of vagrants who move around trying to make a living and loosely organising themselves in small, nomadic communes. He travels by boarding freight trains when they slow down at night, and eventually is confronted with the Hobo Killer, a figure whose reputation precedes him and who represents a vigilante opposition to the homeless population that has emerged.

Frank himself is a fascinating antihero who has spent the last decade of his life protected in a military compound in L.A., after his wife drowned trying to save their youngest son. This drives him to drinking, while his sons are taken care of by his sister-in-law in Detroit. One day he receives a letter that propels him to take action and go on this journey. We get glimpses of his past as he is traveling, including the time he spent fighting in the Middle East, his brothers in arms, and his days shortly after the nation-wide disaster. A particularly emotional part of the movie takes place in South Dakota, where he spends a few days with Sally Ann, a half-Lakotan stripper who goes by the name Lapdances With Wolves. Here we see a stark portrayal of the Native American communities, and these two characters who find some solace in each other in the middle of a post-apocalyptic depression.

A gripping story with great emotional depth, Land of Hunger provides stimulating commentary on several social aspects of America today by imagining a dystopian future that takes things to their extremes. At heart though, it is a story of hope, with Frank Baptiste representing the American spirit of perseverance, and it is a reminder of our collective strength and humanity.


Platon Poulas

BA English Literature, MSc Publishing, PhD Overthinking. Spends most of his time trying to get rid of his opinions, care less about when The Winds of Winters will come out if ever, and wondering whether he should switch from coffee to cyanide.