8 out of 10
Release Date: 13th January 2012
Director: Steve McQueen: (12 Years a Slave / Hunger)
Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Nicole Behari and James Badge Dale
Writer: Steve McQueen
To be proofread & edited: Michael Fassbender must have had dry balls after he finished shooting Shame. Man, there’s a lot of f*cking in this film but none of it is up there for titilation (although I think fellow Britpic critic Joe Pesci II may see some merit to watching it in the nude). No, Shame is a seriously good film about a man afflicted with a sex addiction. Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a confident Irish New Yorker who works in the advertising industry. In this working environment of endless socialising and the 24hour convenience culture of the city he is able to disguise his routines even from himself. It’s when his flamboyant, emotional train wreck of a sister, Sissy (CAREY MULLIGAN – DRIVE) gatecrashes his apartment for a week that his life begins to falter.
Shame is one of those angry, solo man films like Taxi Driver or A Single Man, in which we get to spend a few days with a single character as they overcome or succumb to the obstacles that life has thrown up for them. Shame reminded me a lot of some of Paul Schrader’s films like Light Sleeper or Affliction in that Brandon is a complex man who is inexplicably angry and closed off from those around him. It takes an outsider to try and crack their way in to show us what this person is really like. Sissy’s intrusion in Brandon’s ordered life sends him spiralling out of control (instead of exploding he quietly implodes). He begins to question his constant need for sexual gratification, be it a late night threesome or a quick hand shake with the old man in his basement (code for a wank). We see him try to engage with a sweet co-worker (NICOLE BEHARI) but discovers that he just can’t commit and flounders. His sister latches inappropriately with his boss (JAMES BADGE DALE – THE GREY) and causes no end of friction. She is chaos, he is order.
I’ve not seen director Steve McQueen‘s debut Hunger but this is my second favourite Michael Fassbender film performance after Fish Tank and he’s ably matched by a wonderful Carey Mulligan. The script is insightful without being preachy and we’re not left to judge the character. Brandon is what he is. Will he successfully change over time? The film offers no straight answers but it still keep sous on the hook. The decision to shoot the film in New York as opposed to a British city is also a success. The city feels very real and benefits from being shot by outsiders. A scene where Brandon runs four blocks in the dead of night is a great emotional primer as we see him battling alone, trying to distance himself from his loneliness and his wretchedness. The music score is and the choice of featured songs and classical pieces also fits Shame perfectly. The sex is as explicit as you would expect from such a serious filmmaker as Steve McQueen and perverted females and homosexuals amongst you will be pleased to see that Michael Fassbender‘s dick makes an extended cameo… I tried to close my eyes but it still poked me in the ribs.
I wonder though if Shame would have been made if they’d have cast an ugly / old or both actor, say Bob Hoskins or Ice T as Brandon. Its very telling that because our lead is supposedly desirable, that he doesn’t come across like a hairy palmed Harry Palmer. That’s my only quibble and it’s a silly one really. But maybe Shame 2 could have an uglier cast just to experiment.
8 out of 10 – Great in every way. A porno with enviable production values, as well as drawing our attention to a very real addiction that is thrashing bed frames world wide. I just wanted more scenes where a character goes “Hello. I kem to feex da freej, ya?”
Review below by Matt “U Can’t Touch This, but U CAN touch This!” Usher aka Joe Pesci II
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT PERSON IN BEFORE?
- Michael Fassbender: Assassin’s Creed, X Men 5, Steve Jobs, Macbeth (2015), Slow West, Frank, X Men 4, 12 Years a Slave, The Counsellor, Prometheus, Haywire, A Dangerous Method, Jane Eyre (2011), X Men – First Class, Jonah Hex, Centurion, Fish Tank, Inglourious Basterds, Eden Lake, Hunger, 300, Band Of Brothers (TV)
- Carey Mulligan: Suffragette, Far From The Madding Crowd (2015), Inside Llewyn Davis, The Great Gatsby (2013), Drive, Never Let Me Go, Wall Street 2, An Education
- James Badge Dale: The Walk, Parkland, World War Z, The Lone Ranger (2013), Iron Man 3, The Grey, 24 (TV), Lord Of The Flies (1990)