Hunger

Hunger

(2008)

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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Flicks Review

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


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The Press Reviews

  • Anchored by Fassbender’s turn, Hunger is as much about the personal as the political. The real breakthrough, though, is McQueen, who turns in a film that dazzles and challenges in equal measure. Full Review

  • While Hunger is a very brutal film, it also taps into human emotions and, in the end, asks what would we be willing to die for or, better, what could we truly not live without? Full Review

  • Trite, grim and feebly provocative. Full Review

  • The first-time director's unflinching camera, deliberate pacing and maddeningly long takes just amplify the story's innate harshness and test audience endurance levels. Full Review

  • In his fearless commitment to the verité of prison life, McQueen offers a study of individual lives shorn away by institutional role-playing, observing as the gap between prisoners and guards repeatedly dissolves into ceremonial violence. Full Review

  • This film possesses a rare and powerful beauty, and an astonishing performance from Michael Fassbender as Sands, making the committment to endure so worthwhile. Full Review

  • Picture represents a powerful, pertinent but not entirely perfect debut for British visual-artist-turned-feature-helmer Steve McQueen, who demonstrates a painterly touch with composition and real cinematic flair, but who stumbles in film's last furlough with trite symbolism. Full Review