By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
With Michael Fassbender (Magneto, bitches!) blowing up and Shame poised to whip up a firestorm of accolades and controversy, I figured now was the time to check out director Steve McQueen’s directorial debut and first Fassbender showcase, Hunger.
Let me just get this out of my system
The movie relates the story of the hunger strike of IRA volunteer Bobby Sands, who was protesting the nonpolitical status of his fellow prisoners. This lack of political status often led to abuse and suspension of rights prohibited for political prisoners.
Steve McQueen has a directorial style all his own, preferring the oblique to the blatant. This style is very visual, and to a point beyond beautiful cinematography, which there is plenty of as well. There is very little dialogue outside of a long, expository conversation between Sands and a priest in the middle of the film. Hunger is a film you need to pay attention to, but for which you are richly rewarded if you do. It draws you in and envelopes you, which makes the lightning flashes of violence and the eventual conclusion all the more affecting.
Fassbender also delivers a star-making performance as Sands that holds back nothing, from acting favorites drastic weight loss and nudity to a much more difficult immersion in character that exudes pain, fierce determination, and finally, grace.
Forgive me for this:
Also, whatever sores exude
The one issue that I take with the film is the gradual shrinking of its point of view. It opens through the eyes of a British prison guard, and through him we are introduced to the prisoners. This also has the effect of humanizing the guards and their sometimes violent decisions. This disappears in the second half of the film, with the British viewpoint being reduced to intermittent, impersonal radio broadcasts. This is understandable, but saps away a little of the depth of the film.
Hunger is unflinching, brutal, and sometimes nasty, but ultimately beautiful. Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender are undeniable talents that we will be hearing a lot more from.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you see food
Take a Drink: whenever you see a naked man
Take a Drink: for every beating
Drink a Shot: every time you see something disgusting