Monday, January 9, 2012

Shame: Movie Review


Shameful characters learning about themselves and each other.

There’s a lot to be ashamed of in “Shame”. But are the characters actually ashamed of their actions? That’s an interesting question which the film attempts to answer. Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a sex addict; Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is Brandon’s wayward sister and is a needy drama queen; David (James Badge Dale) is Brandon’s boss and is an offensive womanizer. These aren’t easy characters to like or even necessarily care about, but they certainly are compelling.2011

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Screenplay by: Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen

Starring: Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan

Brandon is introduced to us as a very cold person. He does what he wants despite how taboo his hobbies are. We have been taught that what he does is very inappropriate. But is it really wrong of him to live for himself and only for himself? If the film was as perfect as I would have liked it to be, the answer would be no. Problem is, he doesn’t live only for himself. He downloads porn at work and at least we can see the concern on his face when his computer gets shipped off to the IT department. And then his sister, Sissy, enters the picture.

Carey Mulligan in SHAME
A lot of people have praised Michael Fassbender’s performance, and rightly so as he subtly draws your attention to the varied nuances of his modern and successful and yet troubled character. Surprisingly, not as many people have been talking about Carey Mulligan’s performance. She tore me apart with the power she gave to Sissy’s fickle feelings. Quickly, and sometimes quietly, she turned the film into a story about a younger sister’s need for an older brother rather than the struggles of a sex addict.

Of course “Shame” is still a character study. And it really does proceed as you would expect character studies to go: slowly, thoughtfully and quietly (except for when Sissy is breaking up with and simultaneously declaring her love for her current boyfriend on the phone). It’s dark and gritty and depressing but there’s a redemptive quality to the film at the end which somehow makes it a little uplifting.
Best of 2011


Drive (2011) - A thriller disguised as a character study about a driver who starts letting other people into his life.

Rid of Me (2011) - A bleak character study encompassing the best and discomfort of a dark comedy.