Renowned English video artist Steve McQueen's feature film debut, HUNGER, is a cinematic punch to the gut. McQueen brings a visceral intensity to his retelling of the hunger strike instigated by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and several other detain......more
Renowned English video artist Steve McQueen's feature film debut, HUNGER, is a cinematic punch to the gut. McQueen brings a visceral intensity to his retelling of the hunger strike instigated by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and several other detained Irish Republican Army members in the early 1980s, who were determined to live in a Northern Ireland free from British rule. In prison, Sands and other IRA members--including Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) and Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon)--at first protest by refusing to wear the standard prison garb, but soon, they take their protest dangerously further.
McQueen comes from an experimental background, and it shows. He and co-screenwriter, the acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh, blow all the prison movie cliches out of the water. They break their film into three distinct acts. In the first, Gillen and Campbell are tormented by prison guards and made to suffer in a cramped, feces-smeared cell. In the second, Sands and Father Moran (Liam Cunningham) have a startling battle of wits--and emotions--that occurs in a dazzling extended one-take sequence. Lastly, we watch as Sands slowly withers away to nothing. It's impossible not to make a political film out of this furiously political material, but McQueen chooses to concentrate on the more visceral, tactile elements of the story to drive his point home. HUNGER is one of the more exciting directorial debuts of recent memory.
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