One of the joys of keeping up with film is to see a first time filmmaker present his or her work. Most times, it’s a fascinating look at raw talent before it’s been honed, molded and shaped into brilliance – like watching the first brush strokes of something that might one day become the Mona Lisa. Even better than that is when a first time filmmaker makes a film that looks as if he’s been making feature-lengths his whole life. If buzz has any place in the realm of reality – that’s what Steve McQueen has done with Hunger.

The film won the Palm d’Or at Cannes in 2008 after a tumultuous screening, but it’s easy to see how the subject matter and the presentation of said subject matter could unhinge even the casual film-goer. Bobby Sands was a polarizing figure – a member of the IRA and in Parliament under Thatcher, he led a hunger strike while imprisoned in 1981. From what I hear, and from the look of the trailer, Michael Fassbender portrays Sands with incredible fervor. After fellow-writer Landon Palmer sent me the trailer, he commented that Fassbender makes Christian Bale in The Machinist look like he half-assed his weight loss. Whether or not Landon meant for “half-assed” to be a pun about weight loss, it seems like an accurate statement about the dedication that Fassbender maintained for the role.

Hunger had a limited release back in December and expanded on March 20, but it’s still a rare gem that’s only playing a few cities.

What do you think?

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