Those with an interest in up and coming filmmakers, or Irish history, will want to check out the debut feature from Steve McQueen (no, not that one). This highly regarded film, winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival for best feature from a first time director, tells the story of IRA member Bobby Sands and his attempt to stand defiant against British occupation of Northern Ireland even when confined to a prison cell. In 1981, Sands went on a hunger stuck while being kept prisoner, demanding he and fellow inmates be treated as political prisoners, not terrorists.
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BY Andreas Heinemann Flicks Writer
This is not what most viewers would expect from a film concerned with political history. Conspicuous by their absence are old stand-bys like an overarching social context or clear cut value judgments. In their place is a raw, introverted character study that uses the human body as a canvas in its depiction of complex, disturbing concepts relating to martyrdom and political extremism. ... More
Bleak, provocative images of human waste and wasting away are debutante director Steve McQueen’s stock device to this end. Elements such as human excrement and maggots are imbued with a perverse poeticism both hypnotic and repulsive, much like the conflicts being played out and alluded to on screen.
As impressive as the technical elements of the direction are, it is lead actor Michael Fassbender that gives the film a human core. His decomposing frame, achieved through an extreme crash diet, is a fittingly gut-wrenching expression of the film’s thematic concerns, while his hunched intensity is enough to make his status as a hero to some both questionable and convincing.
The lack of a clear narrative structure and an unrelentingly grim approach will not be to everybody’s tastes. Those brave, hardy souls who do indulge though will be rewarded for their endurance with a thought provoking, visceral tour de force.Hide