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HUNGER, 2008
Movie Reviews!

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HUNGER,  MOVIE POSTERHUNGER, 2008
Movie Reviews

Directed by Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Stuart Graham, Helena Bereen, Larry Cowan, Helen Madden, Des McAleer
Review by Russell Wray


SYNOPSIS:

Hunger follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland with an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, led by Bobby Sands. With an epic eye for detail, the film provides a timely exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit.

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REVIEW:

The 21st century saw the biopic return to cinemas with films Ray and Walk the line. These films follow the lives of stars Ray Charles and Johnny Cash with conventional narratives and dull filming techniques. Towards the end of the decade the biopic seemed to have a fresh outlook. Hunger and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly brought a sophisticated view point to the genre. Rather than following the entire life span of an individual, these films only choose the most interesting phase of that individual’s life and depict that transgression with authentic complexity.

The film follows IRA member Bobby Sands who starved himself for sixty six days before his death on the 5th of May 1981. Set inside HM Prison Maze, Bobby Sand’s hunger strike is the vehicle for a story of political obsession and the vulnerability of the human condition.

Steve McQueen, not to be confused with the late dare devil actor, makes his outstanding directorial debut. McQueen counter acts the myth of directors by keeping the film as simple as possible. He avoids traditions in pacing and focuses very much on the visual aesthetics of the scene. It is hard to believe that this inexperienced director can create such a remarkable time capsule of a film. He ushers intelligence into modern film making which will not be accepted by commercial audiences but will be cherished by art house fans.

McQueen’s simplicity lies within his confidence in his camera set ups. He does not complicate the film by using lots of coverage and editing. It is clear that McQueen wants to thrust an unflinching sense of realism onto the audience. One scene, which lasts several minutes, sees a sweeper brushing away water from a long corridor. Although this may not be the most exciting of scenes it is a genius transition, purging away the plot of the first half of the film into an even more intense second act.

As brilliant of a film that Hunger is, it is a challenge to watch. There are many different types of challenges within the film. Some scenes challenge the faint hearted and some challenge the audience’s attention. One of the few scenes of dialogue contrasts the rest of the film by focusing solely on the verbal elements of the scene. This scene features Fassbender and Liam Cunningham sitting almost completely still at a table and consists of one shot which lasts almost ten minutes. This is extremely brave film making as it keeps the naturalism of the subdued conversation but forces the audience to listen to what is being said as oppose to camera techniques.

Fassbender excels as Bobby Sands and shows a commitment that has only been expressed by few in the history of cinema. Following Robert DeNiro and Christian Bale, Fassbender moulds his weight to enhance the authenticity of the film. He worked closely with a dietician to lose the needed weight which provides some visually difficult scenes at the end of the scene.

This includes seeing him literally putting his finger in between his ribs. Fassbender is able to really go to work in this film because of the naturalistic style that McQueen depicts. It is almost impossible to see any craft in Fassbender’s performance even though it is obviously there. This makes Fassbender a key talent in English cinema and one that n doubt will do well in the future. Hunger is an important film because of its content but also because of its harrowing style and originality. The visuals that McQueen presents will imprint the audiences mind forever and make any film lover smile despite the difficult content of the film. This is inspiring film making.

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