Universal acclaim - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25
  1. Reviewed by: Reyhan Harmanci
    Artful, beautiful in parts and unbelievably brutal in others, and no less honest for its stagecraft.
  2. Hunger -- the disturbing, provocative, brilliant feature debut from British director Steve McQueen -- does for modern film what Caravaggio did to Renaissance painting.
  3. 100
    An alternately harrowing and poetic take on the fatal 1982 hunger strike of Irish Republican Army prisoner Bobby Sands, Hunger is also one of the most impressive feature directing debuts in years.
  4. 100
    Hunger is a mesmerizing 96 minutes of cinema, one of the truly extraordinary filmmaking debuts of recent years. It's also an uneasy, unsettling experience and is meant to be.
  5. 100
    A superbly balanced piece of work, addressing the passion of Irish Republican martyr Bobby Sands.
  6. 100
    McQueen has taken the raw materials of filmmaking and committed an act of great art.
  7. A disturbingly avid re-creation of the last six weeks in the life and slow, self-imposed wasting of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands.
  8. The movie is a political remake of "The Passion of the Christ," only more aestheticized: It's rigorous, evocative, and, in spite of its grisly imagery, elegant. It's a triumph--of masochistic literal-mindedness.
  9. 88
    Sands' death is shown in a tableaux of increasing bleakness. It is agonizing, yet filmed with a curious painterly purity.
  10. Hunger is daunting and powerful work.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    So what is Hunger? Unexpectedly, a visually ravishing tour of hell and a meditation on freedom that at best is wordlessly profound and at worst interestingly obscure.
  12. 83
    Hunger may be criticized for being willfully arty, or for reducing a complex political situation to a broadly allegorical vision of martyrdom, but it's never less than visually stunning.
  13. Although the film, for the most part, is told from the perspective of the IRA, it does not blithely take its side.
  14. Reviewed by: Don R. Lewis
    While Hunger is a very brutal film, it also taps into human emotions and, in the end, asks what would we be willing to die for or, better, what could we truly not live without?
  15. It's a strength of this carefully composed, almost obsessively controlled picture that it has no interest in the conventional biographical focus on a subject.
  16. 75
    Hunger is almost silent, most of its sounds being unintelligible moans and screams.
  17. 70
    The brutality in the film is pervasive and often stomach turningly graphic, but what is perhaps most unnerving is the tact, patience and care with which Mr. McQueen depicts its causes and effects.
  18. Reviewed by: Leslie Felperin
    Picture represents a powerful, pertinent but not entirely perfect debut for British visual-artist-turned-feature-helmer Steve McQueen, who demonstrates a painterly touch with composition and real cinematic flair, but who stumbles in film's last furlough with trite symbolism.
  19. 70
    In all, Steve McQueen is a master of fascination rather than of drama--he creates stunning shots rather than an intricate story.
  20. The fulcrum of this deeply humanist work is an extended two-shot of the strike's leader, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), as he converses with a priest (Liam Cunningham); the virtuosic sequence encapsulates the whole sorry history of a horrific civil war.
  21. 63
    For those who can tough it out -- and not everyone will -- Hunger is a searing experience. Just don't expect to have much of an appetite when it's over.
  22. An emotionally devastating drama that isn't for the squeamish.
  23. Reviewed by: Gary Goldstein
    The first-time director's unflinching camera, deliberate pacing and maddeningly long takes just amplify the story's innate harshness and test audience endurance levels.
  24. Trite, grim and feebly provocative.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 71 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Dec 25, 2010
    Harrowing, irreverent, fearless, virtuosic, inimitable, beautiful, unforgettable. Steve McQueen shows himself a true artist; in the hands of a more experienced director, this could have been a film with more technical proficiency and a screenplay that obeyed the traditional laws of character arc and continuity, and as such, would have been another above-average movie about the Irish Troubles to throw on the pile. Cheers to McQueen for having the balls to make the movie he wanted. It's great. Full Review »
  2. JoeM
    Mar 15, 2009
    Steve McQueen has constructed a film devoid of politics and bias. Instead the emphasis is the bare bones of human conflict and sacrifice. We see the mundane world of tea trolleys and care homes spliced with the blind and bitter violence of the troubles. Despite an obvious visual priority in McQueen's filming their is a poignant concentration on dialoguge, climaxing in the elongated discussion between Sands and his priest. To call the film trite is a lazy accusation, and is mistaking what is the most simple of human communication, emotion. A film of depth and patience that is vital viewing. Full Review »
  3. RoryP.
    Feb 1, 2009
    This is a hard one to describe. First of all, this is an exceptionally well made film. I am surprised that It has not done so well critically here. I will assume it has something to do with its controversial subject matter-which perhaps is a tad unfair as it is accurate-and a finale which some argue descends into moving but slightly benign and closed martyr centric iconography- which is a far more valid point. I can see why people have such criticisms, but to be honest I cannot fully endorse them, mainly because the film is just so plainly overwhelming. Exceptionally acted, exceptionally shot and put together, it is an incredibly immersive, cinematic experience. It was one of the few films that i have actually sat, after the end credits started to roll, in the darkness of the cinema, totally bowled over by the whole experience. The second best film of 2008 in my book (the best being There will be Blood, which says alot of the the quality of this film.) The fact that it has been relatively ignored during the awards season is a travesty, especially when far less daring and affecting films such as milk, frost/nixon and yes, even slumdog millionaires are getting acknowledged. I am willing to say it if no one else will, they are all not as good as this film. go see it. Full Review »