Saturday, March 21, 2009

Go watch 'Hunger'

I saw Hunger a few months ago, and its finally opening in limited release in the US. If you get a chance to watch it, I recommend that you do. The film chronicles the final weeks of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands. Its star Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen are a revelation. But A.O. Scott gushes over them a lot better than I do:

In early scenes of a prison guard (Stuart Graham) eating breakfast at his tidy home in Belfast, the camera lingers over tiny, sensual details, homing in on crumbs as they fall into a napkin in the man’s lap and examining the scabs and scrapes on his knuckles. This kind of unhurried watchfulness, as if filmmaking were entirely an act of observation rather than of reconstruction, conjures a sense of dread as well as intimacy. Nothing that happens at the Maze is hidden, euphemized or excused, though even the most harrowing scenes have a curious air of decorum, as if Mr. McQueen was trying to bring human dignity into a place where it has all but vanished.

...This parallel is made both explicit and more complicated when “Hunger” turns its attention to Bobby Sands, who starved himself to death, along with nine other prisoners, in the hunger strike that followed the blanket action. Sands, played by Michael Fassbender, is charismatic and full of impish life, and his choice of martyrdom is at once an act of rational, strategic calculation and a measure of his single-minded, overpowering zeal.

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