Thursday, January 19, 2012


With all the talk one way or another about Steve McQueen's latest, Shame, I knew I wanted to see it for two reasons. 1. I like art that makes you feel uncomfortable 2. naked Michael Fassbender. There's not many dudes I'd care to see naked, but Fassbender is one of them.

And while I never felt quite as uncomfortable as I expected to with this film (which I actually ended up being okay with...I mean, it was relatively tame, all things considered. And in fact, I found the most uncomfortable section of the film when Carey Mulligan's Sissy sings the slowest version of "New York, New York" I've ever heard. Like by a third at least. And at a BAR! Yeah right! 4:57 long!) I did see quite a bit more of Fassbender than I'd expected and more of Mulligan too. 

Like almost everything, it made me miss New York. The ugly/beautiful, the seeking, the way even scaffolding can look heavenly with the right light as you're jogging past it. This is a believable, if bleak, New York. I believe that Brandon lives where he lives, in the apartment he lives in. It's like so so many male New York Flatiron/Midtown/Empire SB/Murray Hill moderns. (Why have so many reviewers misplaced his apt in Chelsea??) The cheapish modern fixtures like door handles and light switches all echo with a very real metallic hollowness. 

That hollowness and starkness of that real NYC apt did more for the film than anything, save obviously the performances of Fassby and Mulligan. (For the record, I thought the two of them had great chemistry. Perhaps it was a bit of their shared "persona"ing. Both Brits of a sort impersonating aspiring New Yorkers.) But A+ production designer. It said more than even the sex did...which, there really wasn't that much of, actually. 

All in all, I thought the film's restraint was well done. Not just with the sex scenes, but with the motivation for all the sex. After all, there are very few answers as intriguing as the initial question. Most reveals are pretty anti-climactic in modern story telling. I'd much rather watch you come at the question from different angles each time. And this relationship almost did that for me. 

The hint of backstory, the tension with no resolution between Brandon and Sissy were much better than actually going there. We don't need to. "We're not bad people, we just come from a bad place" is all we need. Though I will say, I think I'd have liked one more scene with Carey Mulligan. 

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