in Review


I guess I’ll take this time to finally get a couple of reviews out of the way, but I’ll probably be brief since I’m still feeling the affects of post-Christmas laziness.  Shame is a film that I wasn’t really intending to see since its reviews were a bit mixed, and the film’s tone and subject matter weren’t exactly what I was looking for this holiday season.  Still, after sitting through director Steve McQueen’s second collaboration with the increasingly formidable Michael Fassbender, I felt a great amount of satisfaction from the way the film was able to get under my skin with it’s overwhelming sense of despair.

McQueen is often very simple in his technical approach, and the story itself relies on the same kind of intense simplicity.  Fassbender plays Brandon Sullivan, I New York man who is consumed by his sex addiction and seems to spend almost every moment of the film charming women, having sex, wankin’ off, or trying to hide his unruly sexual impulses.  Carey Mulligan plays Sullivan’s sister, who shows up at Brandon’s apartment, and decides to stay with him and thus disrupting his self-imposed lifestyle.

What makes the film worth seeing is undoubtedly Fassbender’s unflinching and occasionally terrifying performance of a man who by the end of the film seems to evoke nothing but scorn and pity, despite the fact that he spends much of the film getting laid.  I will say that the film’s NC-17 rating is probably rightfully earned due to the unwavering amount of sex and nudity in the film, but make no mistake about it, there’s nothing sexy about the way the film portrays its main character.  Also, Carey Mulligan shows she’s more than game for sparring opposite Fassbender, as her performance makes for quite a bit of a departure from the kind of good-natured characters she’s played recently.

The film is filled with a lot of noticeably long takes and a certain kind of detached feeling, which I think for the most part works in favor of a character whose motives are never easy to understand.  And despite the film’s artful nature, subtlety is never really something that the film goes for, which gives it the feeling of a film like Precious or Requiem For A Dream where you get this sense of the filmmaker trying to pound into you this message of hopelessness.  And for that, I can’t really wholeheartedly recommend the film since it’s probably bound to put you in a morose mood.  However, I still applaud the film for being able to pull off that kind of torrid earnestness with a subject as potentially laughable as sex addiction.