Blu-ray Hunger [Blu-ray] [Criterion Collection] (Blu-ray 6307129),
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Hunger [Blu-ray] [Criterion Collection]

  • NR
  • Blu-ray
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Renowned English video artist Steve McQueen's feature film debut, HUNGER, is a cinematic punch to the gut. McQueen brings a visceral intensity to his retelling of the hunger strike instigated by Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and several other detained Irish Republican Army members in the early 1980s, who were determined to live in a Northern Ireland free from British rule. In prison, Sands and other IRA members--including Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) and Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon)--at first protest by refusing to wear the standard prison garb, but soon, they take their protest dangerously further.

    McQueen comes from an experimental background, and it shows. He and co-screenwriter, the acclaimed Irish playwright Enda Walsh, blow all the prison movie clichs out of the water. They break their film into three distinct acts. In the first, Gillen and Campbell are tormented by prison guards and made to suffer in a cramped, feces-smeared cell. In the second, Sands and Father Moran (Liam Cunningham) have a startling battle of wits--and emotions--that occurs in a dazzling extended one-take sequence. Lastly, we watch as Sands slowly withers away to nothing. It's impossible not to make a political film out of this furiously political material, but McQueen chooses to concentrate on the more visceral, tactile elements of the story to drive his point home. HUNGER is one of the more exciting directorial debuts of recent memory.
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  • Credits
    Stuart Graham, Liam McMahon, Liam Cunningham, Brian Milligan, Michael Fassbender, Helena Bereen, Larry Cowan
  • Critic Reviews
    4 stars out of 5 -- "McQueen shoots much of film almost without dialogue, heightening its bleak intensity."
    Total Film

    4 stars out of 5 -- "HUNGER is a powerful, difficult piece that announces McQueen as a singular talent, and Michael Fassbender as an actor of note."
    Empire

    3.5 stars out of 5 -- "The film is a remarkable directorial debut from British artist Steve McQueen....HUNGER's vivid realism has received acclaim..."
    Box Office

    "McQueen deserves credit for his bold, confident approach to depicting the ordeals of such unyielding inmates as Davey Gillen, Gerry Campbell and, most notably, Bobby Sands."
    Los Angeles Times

    "Steve McQueen, a Turner Prize-winning visual artist and first-time filmmaker, finds an almost uncanny balance of violence and quiet."
    New York Times

    3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Fassbender is magnificent, finding the soul of a character stripped of all resources except those that define him as a man....Shockingly immediate and philosophically reflective, HUNGER is an indelibly moving tribute to what makes us human."
    Rolling Stone

    "[O]ne of the most talked-about film-festival triumphs of 2008, a disturbingly avid re-creation of the last six weeks in the life and slow, self-imposed wasting of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands..." -- Grade: A-
    Entertainment Weekly

    3.5 stars out of 4 -- "It was a desperate business, and HUNGER is a desperate film....Director Steve McQueen, an artist who employs merciless realism, strikes three major chords..."
    Chicago Sun-Times

    "[One] of the best films of 2009....A gut-punch of a docudrama..."
    A.V. Club

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