SHAME Tuesday 17 January, 2012
Yes, there’s a lot of sex. Yes, he get’s his cock out but this is proper, grown-up filmmaking, so get over it.
Sometimes, early on in a relationship, you might think it a good idea to go to the cinema on a date. That is quite an acceptable practice. If you are considering planning a date that involves this movie think very carefully. You need to be entirely certain that you are both grown up enough to deal with a film like this without it all going a bit Taxi Driver. I’d be really careful about taking a date you are yet to have sex with. That would be really awkward.
This film is about sex and as such it is quite unflinching in the depiction of one man’s (Brandon) sex life. It is an intense film and for a film that is so firmly about sex, surprisingly impenetrable. When I left the cinema I could hear rumblings of dissent that “nothing happened” but that is, I think, completely missing the point. There are large sections of the film that very difficult to read but that does not mean that we should conclude that nothing is happening. I suspect it will take quite a few viewings to really get to the heart of this film.
This is director, Steve McQueen’s second film. I didn’t see his first, the critically acclaimed Hunger but as a result of how much I enjoyed this I will be tracking a down a copy soon. I think we can expect great things from him in the future. I remember seeing his work in a program about the turner prize, years ago. I wondered, at the time, why he didn’t just make proper films. It seems that he must have been wondering the same thing.
Michael Fassbender is typically brilliant as Brandon (the lead character) which is just as well because there are few frames in the film that don’t find the camera voyeuristically stalking him. Carey Mulligan is also excellent as Brandon’s sister. The relationship between the two is as complex as everything else in the film. I really felt like the information was there but I was not looking at it in the right way to decipher it correctly. Perhaps I was wrong but it seemed like there were systems at play on the screen. Systems which, once recognised, would allow a much broader understanding of the events depicted.
The way in which the actions unfold on the screen are almost clinical but there is an alarming intensity and an underlying brutality about the film. I left the cinema feeling tired but exhilarated. I suppose many people will watch the film and find it a cheap attempt to titillate but those people are morons. This is mature, thought provoking cinema. I might not have found it to the feelgood hit of the summer but I am very glad I saw it and will probably watch it again in an effort to really understand it. An excellent film about intimacy that you need to think carefully about who you watch it with.