Hunger (2009) - Rotten Tomatoes

Hunger (2009)

TOMATOMETER

AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic 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.

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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 Campbell are subjected to frequent violence by the guards, who in turn live with the constant threat of assassination at the hands of Republicans during their off-hours. Campbell and Gillen are taking part in a protest in which they and their fellow IRA inmates are refusing to wear standard prison-issue uniforms as a protest against Britain's refusal to recognize them as political prisoners, a move that is complicating their efforts to pass information among the other prisoners. As the protest fails to get results, one IRA member behind bars, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), decides to take a different tack and begins a hunger strike, refusing to eat until Irish officials are willing to acknowledge the IRA as a legitimate political organization. However, while Sands' protest gains the attention both inside prison walls and in the international news, not everyone believes what he's doing is right, and Sands finds himself verbally sparring with a priest (Liam Cunningham) who questions the ethics and effectiveness of the strike. Hunger received its world premiere at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard program. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Cast

Michael Fassbender
as Bobby Sands
Liam Cunningham
as Father Moran
Stuart Graham
as Ray Lohan
Helena Bereen
as Ray's Mother
Larry Cowan
as Prison Guard
Karen Hassan
as Gerry's Girlfriend
Laine Megaw
as Mrs. Lohan
Frank McCusker
as The Governor
Lalor Roddy
as William
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News & Interviews for Hunger

Critic Reviews for Hunger

All Critics (120) | Top Critics (31)

Midway through the movie there's an epic 24-minute scene...in 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.

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.

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

Audience Reviews for Hunger

½

McQueen's debut is gripping and intense, with some amazing long takes and a disturbing story that depicts the horrendous impact of a hunger strike on the human body, even though I don't like how the plot is suddenly deviated from Davey Gillen to Bobby Sands.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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
Christian C

Super Reviewer

½

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
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

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