Hunger 2008 ★★★★

My experience watching Hunger can best be described as an hour and a half spent completely mesmerized by filmmaking of brazen assuredness and clarity of vision. This is most evident in the virtuosic central scene featuring a 17-minute single take, but it's also made clear in so many other ways - the main subject of the film is not seen until almost 30 minutes in, there is very little said (very little needs to be said), both sound and silence are used extremely effectively, the pacing is slow, deliberate, and creates tension. etc. etc. The visual compositions are, of course, beautiful - brutally beautiful. I found elements of the final sequence a bit heavy-handed, but forgivable.

What I found most interesting about that 17-minute scene is that I really couldn't believe that the camera was not doing a slow track in. Spending the first five minutes on bullshit, and then really getting into it, I was so drawn in that I really thought we were getting closer and closer (maybe it was just my nose getting closer to the TV).

Excellent performances - Fassbender was amazing, Liam Cunningham as well (although I couldn't help thinking that he didn't quite quite hold his own against Fassbender, seeming to stumble ever so slightly).

Still, I'm not sure that it feels totally like a full film, and instead just a longer experimental art piece.

4 Comments

  • Perfect way to put it, more of an art piece than a full film. Almost like a collection of scenes with a thin narrative running through. I haven't seen Shame yet but from what I've heard it also has some issues with telling a story

  • Thanks! I did just see Shame recently, still collecting my thoughts. I think the lack of true narrative arc almost works better for Hunger, but I'm not sure...still, I think they're both worthy. At least to see a budding master at work and a brilliant partnership.

  • I agree that the narrative of Hunger is very offbeat and definitely feels like the work of a first-time film-maker.

    But with Shame, I felt that McQueen's ability to tell a true story was increased tenfold. It's a character-driven movie, but all the elements are in place, and they all work wonderfully. I can't recommend Shame enough.

  • I'm still thinking about it. Let's discuss when I get to Shame =)

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