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Hunger (2009)


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Reviews Counted: 115
Fresh: 104
Rotten: 11

Critics Consensus: Unflinching, uncompromising, vivid and vital, Steve McQueen's challenging debut is not for the faint hearted, but it's still a richly rewarding retelling of troubled times.

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 30
Fresh: 26
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: Unflinching, uncompromising, vivid and vital, Steve McQueen's challenging debut is not for the faint hearted, but it's still a richly rewarding retelling of troubled times.


Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 72,974



Movie Info

The final months of Bobby Sands, the Irish Republican Army activist who protested his treatment at the hands of British prison guards with a hunger strike, are chronicled in this historical drama, the first feature film from artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen. Davey Gillen (Brian Milligan) is an IRA volunteer who is sentenced to Belfast's infamous Maze prison, where he shares a cell with fellow IRA member Gerry Campbell (Liam McMahon). Like most of the IRA volunteers behind bars, Gillen and … More

Drama , Art House & International , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
Steve McQueen (III) , Enda Walsh
In Theaters:
Feb 16, 2010
IFC Films - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Hunger

All Critics (117) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (104) | Rotten (11) | DVD (7)

Midway through the movie there's an epic 24-minute the claustrophobic cell block the protesters have already internalized their cause so deeply that the world of words seems distant and inconsequential.

Full Review… | April 17, 2009
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

It's a strength of this carefully composed, almost obsessively controlled picture that it has no interest in the conventional biographical focus on a subject.

Full Review… | April 17, 2009
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Hunger is daunting and powerful work.

Full Review… | April 16, 2009
Philadelphia Inquirer
Top Critic

Hunger is not about the rights and wrongs of the British in Northern Ireland, but about inhumane prison conditions, the steeled determination of IRA members like Bobby Sands, and a rock and a hard place.

Full Review… | April 16, 2009
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Hunger -- the disturbing, provocative, brilliant feature debut from British director Steve McQueen -- does for modern film what Caravaggio did to Renaissance painting.

Full Review… | April 10, 2009
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Relying on images more than words, it's a plea for humanity in times of insanity.

Full Review… | April 10, 2009
Toronto Star
Top Critic

In the desolate surrounds of a prison environment that affronts humanity McQueen finds the redemptive struggles, and unrelenting spirit in the feces smeared walls of a British prison.

Full Review… | January 21, 2013
2UE That Movie Show

...simultaneously harsh and gentle; an early shot of a tiny snowflake melting on bloodied knuckles could serve as the movie's logo.

Full Review… | November 15, 2011

Hunger will leave you feeling emotionally battered and bruised -- yet emerging from the cinema a stronger person for having witnessed such a beautiful and brutal film.

Full Review… | July 14, 2011
Digital Spy

Not just the toughest film of the year but amongst the toughest ever made.

Full Review… | April 5, 2011
Dark Horizons

Hunger is tough going -- and compelling cinema throughout.

Full Review… | April 4, 2011
Hollywood & Fine

Politically, Bobby Sands' suicide meant nothing, but it illustrated poisonous lengths to which someone would go in protecting the only reality he ever knew. This is terrorism's pox, and why the Troubles - though stabilized - still bear the scars of shame.

Full Review… | September 24, 2010

As pretentious as it is engrossing...

Full Review… | July 19, 2010
Reel Film Reviews

Director Steve McQueen delivers one the more memorable debut features of the last several years.

Full Review… | May 1, 2010
Movie Metropolis

a film of great visceral directness and emotional power

Full Review… | April 7, 2010
Q Network Film Desk

A poetic, almost abstract take on very real, tangible material -- a fitting artistic approach to a surreal, extreme experience most human beings will not have on their own.

Full Review… | March 3, 2010
Window to the Movies

... a study in the deterioration of the human body... and the will it takes to endure such self-mortification in the name of cause.

Full Review… | February 17, 2010

Spurious transcendence and underlined symbolism

Full Review… | August 25, 2009

Yes, "Hunger" is a fairly nasty affair and we don't even get to the starvation part until the third act.

Full Review… | July 21, 2009
Film Threat

If you're going to make a film about an extremist, it makes sense to tell the story using extreme or at least unusual techniques.

Full Review… | June 7, 2009

It's as stubbornly inscrutable as its subjects.

May 15, 2009
Kansas City Star

"Hunger" pushes through the cliches of both prison films and political films to make something original, powerful and hard to shake.

Full Review… | May 8, 2009
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Seriously brutal.

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Steve McQueen's Hunger is a daring, brutal, vital piece of filmmaking.

Full Review… | April 21, 2009
Movie Retriever

An alternately harrowing and poetic take on the fatal 1982 hunger strike of Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands, Hunger is also one of the most impressive feature directing debuts in years.

Full Review… | April 17, 2009

Audience Reviews for Hunger


Steve McQueen's debut is gripping and intense, and he displays a lot of control for a first film, creating some amazing long takes. A disturbing story showing the impact of a hunger strike on the human body, though I don't like how the plot is suddenly deviated from Davey Gillen to Bobby Sands.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer

I have never seen such a brutal, gut-wrenching prison film in my life! Complex emotionally and philosophically, the tensions never let up. Fassbender's commitment to the role is nothing short of astounding. The inhumanity and control of McQueen's first film towers above that of even his Oscar award winning "12 Years A Slave". If you're looking for raw, honest but brutal reality, this is a film for you.

Christian C

Super Reviewer


To me, the whole film boils down to the long conversation, between Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) and Father Moran (Liam Cunningham), a scene that takes up about a quarter of the movie but keeps you riveted throughout. Much uglier depiction of the prison conditions for Irish Republicans than, say, In the Name of the Father, and in my opinion, a much less sympathetic film, too - McQueen's work does a lot more documenting than inspiring and the work hits pretty hard, in all.

Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer


Well, that was depressing. But holy monologue, Fassbender!

Julie B

Super Reviewer

Hunger Quotes

Father Dominic Moran:
The Brits have been fucking up everything for centuries.
– Submitted by Panta O (13 months ago)
The Governor:
There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing, political violence. There is only criminal murder, criminal bombing, and criminal violence. There will be no political status.
– Submitted by Claudia F (2 years ago)

Discussion Forum

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