It's ironic that a film about — well, sort of — hunger striker Bobby Sands should have certain critics salivating, but also utterly predictable. It's directed by award-winning artist Steve McQueen. It features a hugely committed performance from Michael Fassbender as Sands. It covers a dark period in British history. And the film is as ludicrously pretentious as they come.

Eschewing standard narrative structure for 'art' – because actually telling the fucking story would have been too fucking bourgeoisie, right Steve? Yeah! Esoteric filmmaking! That's sticking it to the man! —  Hunger focuses not on Sands, per se, but more on the people and 'stories' around him, such as a prison guard (Graham) and a new prisoner (McMahon). Sands is introduced... well, actually, he's not really. The film suddenly shifts to occasionally feature this red-haired prisoner starting a hunger strike, in between debates on the morality of the same with a priest (Cunningham), the minutiae of prison life as a whole, the brutality of the conditions, how to redecorate your cell with faecal matter and, in one extended scene, how you clean several pints of urine off a prison corridor. No, really: there's a scene, approximately ten minutes in length, where a prison guard washes and bleaches down that particular dirty protest.

Because that's how you know it's an intelligent film, right? It's 90% unwatchable. McQueen assumes that everyone in the audience is a fucking social studies teacher from North London who knows all about the incident so he can leave out the (obviously too mainstream) explanation and thus pitch it above the heads of anyone normal. But don't worry, because the masturbation is entirely mutual. You an almost smell the teachers, stroking their beards over a half of real ale afterwards and rubbing their corduroy elbow patches together with glee at the sheer, oh so fucking clever, prole-excluding nature of the telling.  And McQueen apparently gets away with because he's an award-winning fucking artist.

In short, Hunger is the art-wankiest of art-wank. McQueen takes what is borderline the best performance of the year and sidelines it in an inaccessible format that's more concerned in getting people who should know better to blow yet more smoke up McQueen's overrated, pretentious arse. Why not go the whole esoteric hog, Steve, and call this waste of time something obscure? Hunger? That's a bit fucking obvious isn't it? I've got one for you. 'The Emperor's New Clothes'? Because that's what this, and the reaction to this film, is.

Official UK Site
Hunger at IMDb

Neil Davey is a freelance writer who specialises in things you can do sitting down, such as travelling, eating, drinking, watching films, interviewing famous people and playing video games. (And catching the occasional salmon.) Neil is the author of two Bluffer's Guides (Chocolate, and Food, both of which make lovely presents, ahem), and, along with Stuart O'Connor, is a co-founder of Screenjabber. Neil also writes / has written for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Square Mile, Delicious Magazine, Sainsbury's Magazine, Foodism, Escapism, Hello! and Square Meal.

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