British visual artist Steve McQueen has earned acclaim for work that's topical, challenging, and political without being polemical, traits it shares with his stark but moving 2008 drama about the Irish Republican Army's 1981 hunger strike inside Northern Ireland's notorious Maze Prison. Avoiding conventional exposition, McQueen and his cowriter, Enda Walsh, draw the viewer in through shifting points of view, as the convicts endure increasingly brutal tortures in their struggle to be recognized as political detainees. 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.
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The Art Institute surveys the career of Brit artist McQueen
Steve McQueen's Shame is rated NC-17. Happy Holidays!