25 Nov

Steve McQueen’s (no, not the blue-eyed baseball bouncing Great Escaper) directorial debut sets out to shock and emotionally destroy its audience from the outset. In fact by the end of ‘Hunger’ it is hard not to have drawn on every single human emotion. Happiness, sadness, shock, admiration, pity, compassion, anger….the list goes on and on. It does not however choose a side, nor does it attempt to portray its main character, a Mr Bobby Sands, as a villain or a hero.

It is a film about humans, humans trapped within a certain political institution, in this case specifically Northern Ireland’s Maze Prison, where the humanity transcends over the politics to allows us an insight into an examination of the human psyche and the reasons/beliefs behind someone’s decision to starve their body in the ultimate form of protest.

Although Hunger’s subject matter is deeply complex and extremely chilling it is by no means current or assigned column inches as a sought after piece of political history. It would be easy to assume that the film may not be so emotionally effective if it wasn’t based on true events, but then, you watch it.

Admittedly the films beginning could well be a representation of how the word ‘bored’ came into being, particularly for those of us raised in a viewing world of fast-paced edits and the invention of the Blockbuster, but after 10 minutes or so you are drawn into a raw, gritty and sickening world. It draws on the unwatchable/watchable parallel that despite what you are seeing is making you nauseous, your eyes and entire being are glued to the screen.

Undoubtedly the main reason for this is Michael Fassbender. Much like Bale in ‘The Machinist’, Fassbender sacrifices a lot more than his time to the project – the gradual deterioration of his tortured body is almost impossible to watch – and by giving us a compelling insight into the complexity of Bobby Sands character and mind, he proves that he is one of this generations most talented actors, with a powerful presence on-screen.

Despite its more art-house appeal – not many ‘mainstream’ films would opt for a 22 minute long scene in which the camera remains stationary – Hunger is simply a film that needs to be, no, has to be watched. If not for Fassbenders perfect performance, or for McQueens incredibly compassionate and unique storytelling, then for the men and their families whose lives this film is based on, and for a piece of history that should simply never be forgotten.

Verdict: ‘Bored’. Intrigued. Captivated. Disgusted. 22 Minutes. Compassionate. Sickened. Astonished. McQueen encapsulates everything that should be right with cinema – a rollercoaster of emotion that leaves you completely satisfied. A true masterpiece.

One Response to “Hunger.”


  1. It’s all political – My Top 10 Political Drama’s | afewgoodfilmreviews - October 8, 2013

    […] Hunger. […]

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