Sunday, January 25, 2015

Indie Review: Hunger (2008)

              'Hunger' Offers An Uncanny Craving For Unhinged Realism
              Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro. Two filmmakers from the same pond that managed to become a duo that would influence and challenge cinema. One current duo that I would say is on its way to being ranked among the likes of those two is the dynamic Brit duo of both Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen as those two have yet to deliver a false note on their collaborative filmography.

               Hunger follows the real-life story of an IRA prisoner named Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) who, in a Northern Irish prison back in 1981, led a hunger strike in order for them to win political status.

                 I'll start off with the performance by Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands. It is an absolute transformation both physically and mentally. In the first act, Fassbender plays Sands as a charismatic leader who is accepting of his dead end despair yet as he becomes more frail, we see him as a saddended victim fighting for his cause and that is when his acting becomes more physical. This is yet another 180 from his other performances including his work as a sex addict in Shame, an android in Prometheus, a sadistic slave owner in 12 Years A Slave, and Magneto.

                 Another thing that I liked, which I thought was interesting, is how throughout its running time, there is hardly any dialogue being said. I think that co-writer/director Steve McQueen and co-writer Enda Walsh were going for an almost documentary-type feel by letting sequences like beatings of the prisoners and Sands' rapid weight loss do most of the talking. I also liked the long 17-minute long tracking shot where a priest confronts Bobby about his protest. Even as the camera keeps rolling and never moves, you can still feel the tension taking place.

               I thought that the first 28 minutes, up until Fassbender shows up, were kind of slow and even though they focused on two other prisoners, once Michael Fassbender enters the picture, they never seemed to go anywhere with the other two at that point. I think if they just focused on Bobby Sands throughout, it would've been much better.

              Overall, Hunger is a visceral look at prison life with a documentary feel that features a performance by Michael Fassbender which packs a physical and emotional punch. I may have had problems with the first 28 minutes, but it is still a strong debut by director Steve McQueen.

               Would I Recommend It?:
              It probably won't be for everybody because it gets hard to watch at times. But it is worth a watch for Michael Fassbender's committed portrayal.

Grade: B+