The story of Irish prisoner Bobby Sands and his struggle to win rights for his fellow inmates comes to horrifying, scathing, sobering reality in Steve McQueen’s knockout debut, Hunger. Michael Fassbender plays Sands with all the vehemence and conviction necessary to take home every award in the book, and every actor in this minimal dialogue, exhausting, heart-wrenching tour de force delivers the goods in every way possible. Sands wants all of his fellow prisoners to be treated as prisoners of war instead of common criminals, to be recognized as political prisoners for their participation in the turmoil of Northern Ireland’s struggle. A “no wash” protest is underway, a protest in which the prisoners use their bodies as weapons, and Sands is willing to take his to the limit to realize his aspirations. Implementing a hunger strike in which he will be the first participant (and possibly casualty), Sands is absolutely committed to the cause, and Fassbender delivers a powerhouse performance that will endure for all time, a true embodiment of a zealot willing to take his vision beyond the limit. To watch this film is to be drawn into a conflict beyond our comprehension as Americans, to bear witness to a conviction foreign to our usual patriotic sentiment. Whether or not you agree is not up for debate, however, and though it may be hard to stomach, you won’t be able to look away.