It didn't happen all at once. Michael Fassbender snuck up on me. In Steve McQueen's Hunger (2008), the story of Irish freedom fighter Bobby Sands, Fassbender was essential to the narrative, but the film is shot in such a way that it keeps you at a distance from him. That's a movie where the emphasis is not on his face but on his tormented body being dragged and tossed around by prison officials in the same curiously voluptuous fashion that marked Brad Davis's semi-porny imprisonment in Midnight Express (1978). In 2009, Fassbender played a jaunty film critic in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and again, he wasn't allowed to dominate that movie, though he did show flashes of wit. It was only when I saw Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank, made that same year, that I was suddenly thunderstruck by this actor, and it happened in his very first scene.
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