It’s a bold film that can seat two people opposite each other for nearly 20 minutes, just having a conversation. Hunger
is that movie. What’s particularly impressive is just how enthralling the scene is, and how it makes cinematic gold out of something seemingly so straightforward. Yet straightforward is something that director Steve McQueen’s debut behind the camera absolutely isn’t. Hunger
is the story of the IRA hunger strike at the Maze Prison in 1981, and it quickly pulls little punches in getting across the conditions in the prison, and the inmates’ dissatisfaction.
Hunger treads a very careful political line throughout its running time, and what emerges is a surprisingly open drama, powered by an excellent performance from Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands. As Sands embarks on his infamous hunger strike, Fassbender mesmerises in the role, leading up to the aforementioned, gripping, single conversation that’s the highlight of the film. Mark him down as a major talent to watch. Alongside Fassbender, director Steve McQueen does really quite sterling work with Hunger. It can’t have been an easy film to direct by any measure, yet he turns in a harrowing piece of cinema that leaves the judgements to the viewer. It’s challenging film making and--despite a little stumbling as it enters its final act--it’s some piece of cinema too. --Jon Foster
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Featurette, Interactive Menu, Making Of, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: The film stars Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) (Bobby Sands was not a member of the IRA he was a member of the Irish National Liberation Army but acted with the IRA as part of a broader Irish Republican movement within the Long Kesh prison where this movie occurs) member who led the 1981 Irish hunger strike and participated in the no wash protest (led by Brendan "The Dark" Hughes) in which Republican prisoners tried to win political status. It dramatises events in the Maze prison in the six weeks prior to Sands death.The film opens with prison guard, Raymond Lohan (Stuart Graham) preparing to leave for work; checking under his car for bombs, putting on his uniform in the locker room and ignoring the camaraderie of his colleagues.Davey (Brian Milligan), a new IRA prisoner arrives at the gaol, following his refusal to wear the prison uniform, he is labeled "non-cooperative." His new roommate, Gerry (Liam McMahon), has smeared the cell with faeces from floor to ceiling and we witness their resistance to the prison regime.Sands is the focus of the film. He deeply believes in the cause that he was imprisoned for and in the righteousness of dying for political prisoner status. In one of the film's most notable scenes Sands debates the morality of the hunger strike with a visiting priest (Liam Cunningham).Yet to be released in the UK [31st October 2008], the film has premiered at Cannes, where it opened the official sidebar section, Un Certain Regard, sparking both walkouts and a standing ovation. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, British Independent Film Awards, Cannes Film F...Hunger