My interest in Hunger had increased due to the positive press surrounding the latest Steve McQueen/Michael Fassbender collaboration but it is a film I had been putting off viewing due to its content but today I finally sat down at watched it.
PLOT: Hunger follows the story of Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) an inmate of the Maze Prison who leads a group of Republican prisoners on a hunger strike in 1981. END PLOT
Hunger is set during a very dangerous political time however politics are not the key issue and once Bobby Sands makes his appearance about 20mins into the film the focus is placed solely on him. The plot although steeped in history is very basic however Hunger never claims to be plot heavy and confidently allows itself to be a performance piece.
The film, for the most part, is paced very slowly and clocks in at just over 90mins. There are several quiet shots of long empty corridors and extended scenes of cells being cleaned which help the deliberately slow pacing.
Hunger is very light on dialogue however just before Sands begins his hunger strike there is an uncut fifteen minute scene between Sands and Father Moran (Liam Cunningham). In this scene the banter flows quickly and easily until talk of the strikes begins and we get an honest glimpse of Sands' logic and beliefs. If there were every any doubts about the quality of Michael Fassbender they are quelled by this section of the film.
Once the hunger strike begins Sands doesn’t speak and Fassbender’s portrayal of a man slowly dying is as engrossing as it is horrific. We are shown in graphic detail Sands shrinking frame, ribs and bedsores with Sands' pain and suffering shown through Fassbender's silent performance.
McQueen doesn’t hold back when showing life inside the prison during the blanket and no wash protests but manages to keep a relatively balanced view of a very dark time in Northern Irish history. Everything about Hunger is real and gritty and the fact that these events happened only thirty years ago about 20mins up the road made the entire film downright unsettling.
Hunger is a brutally raw and uncomfortable watch but I am hard pressed to find any faults. 10/10.