Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wednesday Movie Night: Hunger (2008)

 After watching Shame and 12 Years a Slave I figured it was time to go ahead and round out the Steve McQueen movies with Hunger. A dark and powerful look at a real life happening of prisoners who were also captive soldiers protested by not wearing civilian clothes, not eating, and putting their poop on walls. You heard it right, there is feces on the walls! With Steve McQueen teaming up with Michael Fassbender to make him the lead you get a very riveting and memorable look into the idea of protesting in prison.

Summary: Bobby Sands is a prisoner in Maze Prison in 1981. He is also the leader of a protest that includes not bathing and not wearing clothes in order to gain better statues for the prisoners who are of republican status. What Sands says will be their next act will be their next even if it means starving to gain what they believe they should have. This makes life not only brutal for the prisoners, but also the prison guards who are resorting to forcing the prisoners to bath and maintain their appearance.

Acting: Michael Fassbender doesn't appear until about midway into the movie, but he really steals the show as Bobby Sands. He even takes it up a notch to lose a lot of weight for the role. Fassbender though continues on his streak of playing harsh characters with blurry lines of right and wrong. Fassbender though embraces who this character is, and makes him different from others he has portrayed. Liam Cunningham is also noted as being in the movie, but if that's what you're watching for I would say his part isn't a huge enough draw. He has a piece as a Priest, but there are other actors like Liam Mahon who are in the movie for longer lengths of time. Mahon plays another prisoner who we see arrive there, but his part becomes smaller once Fassbender arrives on screen.

Filming: McQueen uses what he is more accustomed to in this movie. The vibe is much similar to Shame than 12 Years a Slave. The colors are sterile, and everything is captured bleakly. Even the outside of the prison when it shows one of the guards at home has an overcast that makes the movie darker. This almost makes the scenes much more dramatic. There is little use of a score, so when you have scenes where the prisoners are forced to be washed, or even when they are cleaning out the prison of feces and other waste it makes the scenes that much more powerful, and well grotesque.

Plot: The plot revolves around a real life event. I wasn't someone who went into the movie with a full background and understanding of what was pivotal about what the prisoners were doing either. Though I thought the discussion between the priest and the prisoner, Bobby Sands, was insightful, it was way too long. It eats a good portion of the movie. I think it brings up some good points for the viewer to ponder over. The priest doesn't believe that what Bobby is doing is worth the loss, but Bobby believes in standing up for the rights he believes they have. What is loss on me is the importance behind what they are doing. Much of the movie focuses on moments like this or a long dying scene with Bobby at the end instead of expanding the story for more than an hour and a half to get us into the situation and understanding their passion.

Hunger strives more to be art and disturbing than give us a story driven by characters. It is well shot though and the acting is superb from everyone involved. McQueen was utilizing many of the techniques he would go on to make stronger in his later movies. Hunger is a great starting place though, and just as dark and insightful as many of his other movies.

Rating 8 of 10.

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