Film Thoughts: Shame (2011)

Lots of spoilers ahead, this isn’t a proper review, just some stray thoughts that I put down after I watched a film.

This weekend I saw ‘Melancholia’ again (I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I did initially). But the stand out film was ‘Shame’ by Steve McQueen (no, not THAT Steve McQueen) who had previously directed the fantastic ‘Hunger’. In short it is a movie about a man who suffers from sex addiction I thought it was fantastic, though very different from Hunger. It is a less ambitious, more personal picture. I’d recommend the film, it is a a very subtle and moving picture of a man in a truly difficult place.

SPOILERS & Trailer after the jump.

This film has some exquisite shots and scenes. I’ll never forget the absolutely horrifying sequence starting when the protagonist (Michael Fassbender) realizes he’s left his depressive (and suicidal) sister alone in his apartment, the look of complete panic in the elevator ride and the absolutely horrifying reveal that she’s tried to kill herself as she lies slumped in the bathroom. The contrast between the black tile, the blue of the room and the blood makes the whole thing a total shock (the fact that you’ve been led to believe that she might have thrown herself infront of a subway train makes it even worse when he finds her).

Man, I gasped, that scene was like a punch in the gut.

The music was fantastic and discordant in that scene. The rest of the music in the film, particularly the main theme, is a bit overdone and melodramatic, but is sparingly used.

Other incredible sequences- the jogging scene in downtown new york- the way that it was totally fluid and done in a single take is impressive both technically but also the way it gets you into his mind set of wanting mindless repetition/release. The very funny, very awkward, dinner/date sequence with the co-worker was great as well.

Two friends pointed out the look on the protagonist’s face after the ‘three-way’ scene- the awful way it looks drawn and dead despite apparently being in the throes of passion. It looked a bit silly to me and I quickly forgot it. Apparently it didn’t really have the same impact with me that it did with them.

I find it interesting that the label ‘sex addict’ keeps being used to describe the main character when it isn’t used in the movie. It is probably accurate, but I like the way the film didn’t deal with it as something external to his “real” problems (which i took that the film implied sexual abuse of his sister and him by his father).

Him having lots of sex seems more a symptom of something fucked up within him, rather than the sort of 1950s stereotype of an addict the narrative of a “good kid who tried _____ and then became an addict”.

I got a bit weirded out as well that he was being very free and loose- the film never indicated or even implied he used condoms. The man must be a walking petri-dish.

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Film Thoughts: Shame (2011)

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