A compelling and unforgettable portrayal of life within the maze prison at the time of 1981 IRA hunger strike.
Running Time: 96 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: Ireland, United Kingdom
Will the members of the Michael Fassbender appreciation society please form an orderly queue behind me. The GeIrishman really is building quite an eclectic body of work that’s rightfully getting him more and more recognition. Before Inglourious Basterds, Eden Lake and X-Men: First Class came this moving portrayal of Northern Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands.
Hunger tells the story of the prisoners of Northern Ireland’s H block who went on a hunger strike with the aim of being recongnised as political prisoners rather than common terrorists by the British government. The result was an agonising, drawn out affair that brought international exposure to their efforts and condemnation to the stubbornness of Margaret Thatcher and the British. Bobby Sands was their leader on the inside and public face of the protest and the story mainly centres of his views, life in prison and failing health.
Although this film is told from the point of Irish prisoners, Steve McQueen skillfully reigns in any over-the-top bias and Brit-bashing (take heed Mel Gibson) and certainly steers clear of propaganda. He shows the brutality of the prison system and the horrific conditions that the prisoners were living in but also dangerous life of a prison guard as they were constantly on tenterhooks out in public. Hunger focuses on the strikers and their emotional fortitude and physical fragility and this allows Fassbender to really take centre stage and show what he can do.
The linchpin of the movie has to be the unbroken twenty minute tennis-rally dialogue between Fassbender’s Sands and Cunningham’s tough Father Moran as they discuss motives, consequences and faith over a crate of cigarettes. This is a vital component in the movie for really getting to grips with the whys and hows of Sands and the protest and it’s done in such a simple and original way.
It's Got: Unforgettable performances (not just Fassbender), measured unbiased storytelling, memorable scenes
It Needs: Just a little background knowledge
DVD Extras Director's commentary, interviews with the cast and a writer, a BBC piece on the protest from 1981 and an essay by critic Chris Darke - just enough to boost your knowledge DVD Extras Rating: 7/10
Alternatives:Fifty Dead Men Walking, Rescue Dawn, The Wind that Shakes the Barley
Fassbender is excellent and this real life story is adapted with maturity and intelligence by Steve McQueen. An excellent debut feature about a difficult time in British and Irish history.