|Starring||Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Walters, Robert Montano|
|Release||2 DEC (US) 13 JAN 2012 (UK)|
Therein lies the schism of Shame: a portrait of a good man being ripped apart from the inside by rampant urges he doesn't understand – who craves sex but has a life completely bereft of intimacy. Fassbender is up to it, never coming across as a sleaze or a player – there are barely any 'seduction' scenes as in Roger Dodger, rather we skip straight from the flirting to the fucking. There's precious little smarm too, although that's offset by Brandon's tragically naff boss, played by James Badge Dale (who's hand has grown back since he appeared on 24). Brandon is a complex role that requires a great deal of internalisation, but Fassbender nails it. LITERALLY. (*falls down stairs carrying cymbals*)
As in Hunger, McQueen lets his camera roll indiscriminately, capturing moments of extreme tension and awkwardness in the long silences between – what I presume to be mostly improvised – dialogue. The sex scenes are graphic and numerous, shot mechanically for a reason, but Shame is a stylish movie through and through. New York – lit up and sparkling like a strip club – has rarely looked better, and neither has Fassbender (top scarfing, great winter wear). The score is brilliant too, lending the sex scenes a gravitas that Fassbender's cum-face can't quite provide on its own.
There are moments that are somewhat ham-handed (pun most definitely intended), like Fassbender sexing a woman up against a wall with graffiti reading 'FUCK' written on it in giant letters, or his record player spinning 'I Want Your Love' when Brandon finds his equally needy sister come home to roost. Conversely though, Shame doesn't pretend to have the answers to Brandon's affliction, nor the root of his animosity towards Sissy, and doesn't bother to peddle any easy answers – don't expect much in the way of resolution.
Shame is a snapshot of a tumultuous life, shot without judgement and censure – the fascinating story of a man who seemingly has everything and nothing both at once. It is also a really, really shit date movie.