Monday, February 09, 2009
Written by: Steve McQueen, Enda Walsh
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham
My rating: 5/10
OK, I know I am the first person in the world to have not liked this film. But I really did not like this film. That's not to say it isn't a beautifully shot, very ambitious film. It is. There are some admirable scenes and the slow pacing was nicely even. Also, the performances were superb right across the board. A huge problem I had with it was the film's failure to give any information or background to any of the characters. What little nuggets we got were rare and meagre. Not only does this isolate the audience from connecting with any historical framework, but it isolates them from the characters. If you aren't going to give us a political context, then at least give us characters we can feel for!
Michael Fassbender gives us a clearly well researched and physically demanding performance, but due to a lagging script, it felt dead and pointless. No motivation, no characterisation. An encounter with Sands' priest begging him to stop the hunger strike is moving and informs the audience of the unflinching determination he has, and some of his reasons for doing what he is doing. Here, Michael Fassbender earns his stripes with a restrained discussion, veering wildly away from any kind of melodrama. This was a nicely written scene, a 20 minute scene, mostly shot from one angle and involving just two men. More of this would have been nice.
I hate to whine, especially when the film is receiving such acclaim, but it frustrated me to see the message and motivations behind such a tragic story lost in a sea of pretentiousness. The horror and sympathies are left behind due to the insistence of the filmmaker to show the monotony inside the prison. I appreciate the reasons behind the slow progression of the film, and I can appreciate a slow-moving story. However, I don't think this should leave a film feeling hollow, and that is exactly what happen to Hunger.
On a positive note, it is an interestingly shot film, admirably edited and worth a look in terms of art direction. Also, this is not for the faint-hearted. There are some truly horrific scenes of agony and squalor throughout that would make any man cringe.
- Charlene Lydon (09/02/09)