WHAT I LIKED: When watching Steve McQueen's feature debut 'Hunger,' it becomes fairly evident that this director has such an extensive background in short films, as this is an intensely visual piece that simply explores individual moments and a wider context, and in many ways that's rather effective. Yes by choosing to show the horrors of the 1981 IRA hunger strike using this kind of cinema rather than through character exploration or narrative, you really do get a thoroughly in-depth understanding of the beliefs and the intensity of the methods involved as there's so much time and care devoted to graphically building the picture and - during the lengthy central scene - discussing the reasoning. That mostly makes for a pretty grueling watch, but it's made successful by McQueen's reluctance to hold back on the brutality, and by some tough performances from Michael Fassbender and Stuart Graham (who arguably gets the most time to develop any sort of character attachment) and in the end that means it's a film that commands attention for its entirety, and does justice to the horrors of its real-life subject matter.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It really could have been a short film (or at the very least a far shorter one), as there are many moments that linger far too long when their points have already been made brilliantly, and there's little genuine character development to fill the voids.
VERDICT: A film that sees director Steve McQueen take his short film approach and apply it to a full-length feature for the first time, 'Hunger,' does a great job of portraying the context and the horrors behind the 1981 IRA hunger strikes, but does equally feel like it's dragging things out.