Film: Shame, Dir. Steve McQueen – #midweekfilmclub 11

This is the perfect first-date movie. Well, not really… but I’d pay good money to see the faces on a pair of relative strangers, both looking for love, on leaving the cinema after watching this.

The film contains a series of impressively long shots; from a beautiful cityscape sequence showing sex addicted Brandon (Michael Fassbender) pounding the streets of New York in an effort to escape the drone of his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) sleeping with his boss (the superbly smug James Badge Dale), to Mulligan’s down-tempo take on New York, New York.  Indeed, as if to warn the audience of what lies in wait, Director of Photography Sean Bobbitt, spends much of the first five miinutes trying to keep Fassbender’s undoubtedly impressive, erm, talent in shot.  On the big screen it’s enough to make any man feel inadequate!  Perhaps Bobbitt’s doing something for his namesake…?

Cheap jokes aside, the film centres on a tabboo that many find laughable. Which makes Fassbender’s portrayal the desparate situations Brandon puts himself in all the more impressive.  Much of the films pre-release hype focused on the explicit nature of the subject matter, however, teenagers watching this film for cheap thrills will get anything but.  Whilst the sex scenes are revealing, graphic and cover a multitude of tastes and desires, the subsequent gloom Brandon goes through on realising that he’s on a spiral into self destruction will surely remove any enjoyment.

Running parallel to Brandon’s travails is the troubled life of his sister Sissy. A counterpoise in many ways to Brandon, Mulligan’s character is scraping a living as a club-singer, whilst her brother is a high flying ad-exec.He lives in a top-spec down-town flat while she surfs from one sofa to the next.

The film depicts the descent of these troubled siblings into ever more strained scenarios, until ultimately it takes a near death experience to make both realise they have to change.

With masterful performances, not only from the leads, but also Badge Dale and Nicole Beharie, who plays a workplace love interest at Brandon’s ad-agency. Indeed the latter stars in the longest single-shot pieces of the many in the film; a brilliantly strained first-date meal, with a ridiculously OTT waiter.

To say I enjoyed the film would be, well feel, wrong. But I did enjoy the way it was played and certainly the style in which it was filmed.  I certainly want to watch Hunger, as a result and look forward to McQueen’s next project.


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