Hunger (2008)

Hunger (2008)
Running Time: 96 minutes

Photo Credit: Icon Film Distribution
Photo Credit: Icon Film Distribution

Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon

Hunger is a film based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in Ireland. It centers on the character, Bobby Sands, a volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who participated in the ‘no wash’ protest, and led the second IRA hunger strike. The film is primarily set in Long Kesh (HM Prison Maze) whereby prisoners are shown living in indescribable conditions as the ‘no wash’ and blanket protest was ongoing. As the film progresses, it focuses on Bobby Sands’ condition and suffering as his hunger strike progresses.

The first thought that entered my head 5 minutes into the movie was ‘Wow’ to the cinematography of the film, and the tone used, as well as the long unbroken shots. I’m so glad that I’ve watched this film first before McQueen’s next movie – also starring Michael Fassbender – Shame. It definitely demonstrates McQueen’s technique in directing and his background in visual arts, as well as Enda Walsh’s writing skills. I would say this film is about 25% dialogue, while the remaining of it is just visuals and silence. It was quite a haunting piece, especially the detailed attention paid to portray the conditions of the prisoners and the setting itself. I loved the way the film was told, how Bobby Sands character was not introduced till about halfway into the film, and instead the writers and director had chosen to begin the movie with a new IRA prisoner which helps the audience get a better idea of the situation and the story. The acting in this film is spot-on, and I can’t help but to point out Fassbender’s commitment to his character as he lose an insane amount of weight to portray the character. It’s a risky move, and it’s definitely up-to-par with Christian Bale’s The Machinist . One of the scenes that really stands out for me from the film was the 17-minutes long static shot, whereby it was just a dialogue scene between two characters, and it was shot in such a way that the audiences don’t really get the usual close-up shots as the characters spoke, but it was filmed from a distance and just showed the silhouette of two people. This must have especially difficult for the actors, because the dialogue doesn’t stop, it just starts and ends at around 17 minutes, and mind you, they did a fantastic job with it. The only other thing I wanted to point out is the courage the writers, director, actors, editors, cinematographer had to make this film. It truly is a beautifully written, visually stunning, stellar performances, awesome directorial debut, and a intensely, graphical film.

Overall, if you’re fine with slow-paced film, and appreciate good acting, good writing, and good cinematography and directing, this is it.

Rating: 8 out of 10


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