Hunger (R16)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/10/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Stunningly directed and superbly acted, Hunger is by turns beautiful, disturbing, thought-provoking, horrifying, brutal and ultimately devastating– it's also unlike any other film you'll see this year.

What's it all about?
Directed by Turner Prize-winning artist Steve McQueen, Hunger is based on the events surrounding the death of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), during the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike in Belfast's Maze Prison. Understandably, there isn't all that much of a plot: the republican prisoners are already on a lengthy round (judging by the length of their beards) of Blanket and No-Wash protests and after the latest in a series of brutal beatings and humiliations, Sands embarks on a Hunger Strike in order to campaign for political prisoner status.

The Good
McQueen, who co-wrote the film with Enda Walsh, takes an extremely bold approach to the subject, eschewing the traditional narrative form in favour of an accumulation of seemingly disconnected scenes – it's at least 30 minutes until we actually meet Sands, for example. There's also hardly any dialogue in the entire film, with the exception of a ten minute, single-take scene in the middle section, in which Sands discusses the morality and the effectiveness of his decision with his priest (Liam Cunningham).

Fassbender is terrific as Sands, fully committing to the physicality of the part - the scenes of his emaciated body as he approaches death are genuinely horrifying. There's also an intriguing, dialogue-free subplot about the effect of the prison on one of the guards (Stuart Graham) – we see him grimly washing the blood off his knuckles every morning as he returns from the night shift.

The Great
Incredibly, McQueen conjures up beautiful, strangely affecting imagery from the most unlikely of sources, such as a shot of the prison corridor flooding with coordinated and specially-directed urine emanating from every cell door. Similarly, the film achieves an almost transcendental quality by the end.

Worth seeing?
Serving as both a reminder of the past and a comment on the present, Hunger is an extraordinary film that demands to be seen. Highly recommended.

Film Trailer

Hunger (R16)
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Content updated: 15/12/2019 17:57

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