Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.
A young man who was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office ends up spending three decades in solitary confinement. During this time, his own personality is supplanted by his alter-ego, Charles Bronson.
Hunger follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland with an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, led by Bobby Sands. With an epic eye for detail, the film provides a timely exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit. Written by
a designer's overly aesthetic take on an issue bigger than that
The topic of this movie is indeed an important one, but it surprised me a bit scanning the other reviews that very few people complain about the extremely artsy visuals, though quite a few mention the lack of substance. What I didn't find at all was any mention of the decidedly gay angle of depiction, what with the superb lighting of undernourished male torsos, facial close-ups of young men screaming and crying, tons of buttocks... rather reminiscent of the at least overtly gay 'Bent' (which by comparison is flawed, but much better).
Even execution is played out in a perfect visual angle, with the blood of the victim splattered out elegantly over his ailing mother's face, whose pink woolen sweater matches the crimson blood perfectly. Obviously Steve McQueen knows his Derek Jarman, but while 'Caravaggio' and 'Sebastiane' are masterpieces juggling with art and homosexuality in varying social contexts, 'Hunger' is evidently intended to be a prison film, and a biographical one at that. Therefore I find its beauty rather out of place, though of course it does manage to unsettle the viewer just because of it.
Supposing this is intentional, one may judge 'Hunger' to be a new take on an established subject, but personally I consider this beauty a gimmick which serves to superficially disguise absence of script and subject matter. Maybe Steve McQueen intends to become a new Peter Greenaway, whose films often suffer from visual overkill as well, but at least obviously and unabashedly so. If anybody asks me about a good film about the IRA imprisonment issue, I'll continue to refer to 'In the name of the father'.
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