Hunger Film Review

Monday, January 05, 2009

Hunger is the astounding debut feature from Steve McQueen concerning the IRA hunger strikes, in particular Bobby Sands. Now I do recall hunger strikes and the whole media portrayal of these events in the Maze Prison. The film does not glamorise the act or the abusive prison regime. The guards themselves were subject to assassination attempts, as the death count grew no matter what side you were on. Thankfully this is not a political film; McQueen balances the unfolding events with great care, ensuring the film remains true without toppling onto one side.

Hunger is a film of few words, but those that remain are precise, powerful and combined with decisive actions make for an extremely powerful vision. Christian Bale willingly subjected himself to a strict diet to achieve the Machinist; Michael Fassbender achieves the same affect. However here it is far more personal, the slow disintegration of the bodily systems are captured in only a few scenes. The ending won’t surprise anyone aware of the struggles, but the peace that Sands finds, maintains some dignity in his decision.

The greatest scene is without question the meeting between Sands and a priest. This lasts seventeen minutes and with only one camera. It is one of those standout moments in modern cinema. Like There Will Be Blood this is a film from 2008 that will remain in the consciousness of those fortunate enough to see it.

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