Hunger

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.

90%

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Total Count: 125
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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
Karen Hassan
as Gerry's Girlfriend
Larry Cowan
as Prison Guard
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 (125) | Top Critics (36)

  • 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.

    Apr 17, 2009 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 17, 2009 | Rating: 3/4
  • Hunger is daunting and powerful work.

    Apr 16, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Apr 16, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Hunger -- the disturbing, provocative, brilliant feature debut from British director Steve McQueen -- does for modern film what Caravaggio did to Renaissance painting.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 4/4
  • Relying on images more than words, it's a plea for humanity in times of insanity.

    Apr 10, 2009 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

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