Apparently being addicted to sex isn’t fun. Dammit!
Michael Fassbender stars as Brandon, a sex-addict who is constantly bedding women almost each and every single night. However, his sister (Carey Mulligan) soon comes in to live with him and gets in the way of his life-style even though he continues to get worse and worse. Family and sexy-time just don’t really mix.
Other than almost seeing ‘Blue Valentine’ last year when it still had the rating, this marks my first time ever seeing an NC-17 flick, even though it weird is that I didn’t get carded. For some reason they have just never been my thing because they are usually always porno flicks that try to do something, but end up not doing anything. However, this is a flick that I’m glad to say deserved its rating and doesn’t hide away any pee-pees, ta-ta’s, or…well…you know…lady parts.
Writer/director Steve McQueen (no, this one) goes for the guts, or should I say wieners, and keeps this dreary and freaky mood where everything is dark, disturbing, and just not right. There isn’t a real driving force behind this narrative but to see the ways this guy goes about his days, popping b’s left-and-right still made me feel like something crazy was going to happen next.
What I liked about McQueen’s direction is that he actually doesn’t try to spell-out anything, except for the sex of course but even that to an extent is somewhat thought-provoking. McQueen lets us see this guy for what he is and what he’s suffering with and when things go from bad to worse, it’s hard to take your eyes off of the screen mainly because you know that this story is just going to get crazier and crazier. I never felt any emotional attachment to this story but I thought the way that McQueen showed this form of addiction, in it’s sad and dark haze, was very gutsy and he didn’t back down from showing anything, which I thought needed to be done to get the full experience of this film.
Where McQueen really nails this film down is in his way of filming, because being an artist himself, he shows that you can make anything great to look at. I love tracking shots and how McQueen keeps them going on for scene-after-scene was really great because it made me feel as if I was there and it was pretty nice to actually see somebody create tension by using just one shot the whole 5-10 minutes. There are a lot of memorable moments here where McQueen doesn’t cut away once such as the dinner scene he had with his co-worker, or when he’s jogging through the streets of NYC, or when he’s just standing there spying on his next sexual prey. McQueen really added a lot to this film other than just a bunch of really dirty sexy-time scenes, he made this feel real.
However, where this method fails is when he takes a little too long with certain scenes that I think should have been cut right away. I think anybody reading this knows what scene I’m talking about. The scene where Mulligan absolutely butchers the song “New York, New York” played on for way too long and instead of just trying to show us something that these characters share, it made me wonder just how much longer could this damn scene go on for? I mean it wasn’t that long of a song in the first place, right?
Another problem with this film is that the film does start to lose it’s own sight by the end, even though it always stayed interesting. I felt like this film really struck a cord with me when it came to its story, but how everything played out in the end seemed a tad predictable and unfocused. There were certain moments where an idea would pop into my head and I would imagine if what I was thinking, would actually happen in the flick, and 9 times out of 10, it actually happened. What I’m trying to say is that the last 30 minutes were predictable and I could tell what was going to happen next, even though my eyes were still glued to the screen.
The reason why this film felt unfocused by the end too was because there were a lot of characters, situations, and questions that were around within the first hour of the flick, but somehow found their own ways of leaving as soon as things start to get a little crazy. There were questions about this brother and sister on whether or not they actually had incest, and to be truly honest I think they did. However, I can’t be too sure because this film may sort of gives hints to that whole idea, I still think that there were a lot of questions about that and many other certain elements that this film brought up as well. Hey, I liked how McQueen didn’t try to spell it all out for us, but I still think he should have at least left us with a bit more answers.
Once again, Michael Fassbender owns in a role that needs him to do so. Take it for granted, he’s pretty much doing a Christian Bale impersonation right from the start but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t deliver like you would expect a sex-junkie to do so. Fassbender really does let it ALL hang out and with a performance like this, it’s easy to see why he can definitely be an Oscar winner because he’s able to show so many emotions without even barely moving his face. He’s a sly dude when it comes to him getting the ladies, but when he has to show off some real emotions, Fassbender nails it and gives us a glimpse at a guy that seems trapped by his own demons which makes him ultimately vulnerable. This is a very physical and emotional performance for Fassbender, and one that I think he does a superb job in even though he probably won’t get nominated for an Oscar because it’s “too racy”. Besides he should win an Oscar just for being able to piss on camera, which is something I have never seen on film before and since I can’t even pee with somebody standing right behind me, I got to give some props to a guy that can do it in front of a whole film-crew. Carey Mulligan is also pretty good as the foul-mouthed sister of his, but when it comes to being Fassbender’s sister in this flick, you kind of get over-shadowed big-time.
Consensus: Shame ends up leaving more questions unanswered than we would have liked but the vision of Steve McQueen and the unrelenting performance from Fassbender, makes this flick a dark and dreary story that gets crazier and disturbing as it goes on, but with a lot more emotion still left in-tact.