Hunger is based on the true story of Bobby Sands as he leads a group of Irish Republicans on a hunger strike while being held in a Northern Irish prison. The main reason to watch this film would be to see the performance given by rising star Michael Fassbender. This is a very intense and powerful exhibition that shows just what he can be capable of in addition to playing larger scale blockbuster roles.
The first half of the movie focuses on the daily trials of what the prisoners go through as they are beaten, tortured, neglected, and are subjected to just about every other type of abuse one can receive while locked within prison cell walls. There are many images here that will stick with you and make you realize just what types of evil man can be capable of while under the guise of protecting what is perceived to be right and just.
Over the course of the film, we witness very vivid and shocking portrayals of the abuse these men take and we see the extremely vile living conditions they are put in to, some of which being of their own design as a matter of protest. After several points of extreme ridicule and failed attempts at protesting by not washing themselves or wearing prison issued clothing, the prisoners decide to organize a hunger strike as a last desperate attempt for their voices to be heard and Bobby Sands enters the picture as the leader of this final stand.
The crowning achievement of this film has to be the conversation that takes place between Bobby and his childhood Priest who tries to convince him that a hunger strike will be fruitless and will only result in his and many other deaths with no tangible results to be achieved. I say this not because of the conversation itself, although the dialog and acting here are truly top notch, but because the entire scene is filmed in one continuous shot which lasts nearly 17 minutes.
The discussion itself involves the merits of the strike and Bobby is accused of seeking martyrdom of which he denies and explains how he has very clear justifications for his actions. The two go back and forth talking about their beliefs and where they fit in to the overall picture of right and wrong. The Priest truly believes that what Bobby and his followers are doing is wrong, but ultimately realizes that this is not an action he has the ability to put a stop to.
This extremely well acted scene is a quiet contrast to what is otherwise a brutally visual and violent film that most may not be able to take, but is worth watching from both a film making and historical perspective. Made by Director Steve McQueen, he makes no attempt to make a movie that shows both sides of a conflict. This is clearly meant to show what lead these men to make the decisions they ultimately chose to live or die with and as we see Bobby literally wasting away over the third act, we are only left to wonder why this had to happen.
Hunger does have its flaws and, as I suggested, is not a movie for the general cinema going audience, but if you are wanting to witness powerful acting performances inside of a visually shocking and dramatic story, you will appreciate what is presented here. I really hope we get to see Michael Fassbender take on more roles that are even half as challenging as this one as this movie shows that he is more than capable of delivering an Oscar caliber performance.