Shame is available to rent on 7 May 2012 on DVD & Blu-Ray exclusively from Blockbuster and will be available to buy or rent elsewhere on 14 May 2012. To celebrate the release of the DVD, we take another look at Craig Busek’s review of this fearless, frank and compelling movie which was on the big screen earlier this year…
Described by critics as “one of the most provocative films of the year”, Steve McQueen’s Shame gained a lot of anticipated hype in its build up. The film follows the story of sex-addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender) whose life gets turned on its head at the arrival of his younger sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan). Set in New York’s Manhattan district, the film spans all over, taking the audience from high-end nightclubs and luxurious apartments, to seedy bars and gloomy whorehouses. However, throughout almost every scene there is an element of beauty captured by McQueen, juxtaposing the unwholesome subject matter at hand.
Albeit Shame has been branded as a story about sex-addiction, this is not a fair representation of the film. McQueen seems to have done extensive research in to a sex-addict’s life, in order to create a seemingly honest representation of their actions and behaviours, developing the film in to a character-study. Indeed the more gratuitous sex scenes portray the psychological elements, as opposed to the erotic – Brandon’s inability to sleep with a woman he is attracted to emotionally – and this in itself creates an empathy for the character that would not be there otherwise.
Furthermore, the character development between Brandon and Sissy is very thorough. Perhaps not all of the details are exposed, but what is missing in dialogue is made up for in explosive, somewhat uncomfortable scenes. As Brandon loses control, after Sissy has walked in on his masturbation, there is a noticeable sexual tension between the two characters, as they fight and struggle together.
Where the film succeeds the most, is creating a profusion of emotions for the audience to react against. There are large elements of humour, such as when Brandon throws away ALL of his pornographic items. We are hit with a barrage of imagery that would shock even the most enlightened viewer. Collocating this, there are elements of deep distress and exasperated suffering. Intense close-up depictions of self-harm, mixed with explosive outbursts of anger, reveal inner sufferings of characters in a tormented world.
Where the film seemed to lose its way was with the extravagant use of long-winded, one-take shots. The intention seemed to be to create an extraordinary feeling of beauty and intimacy between the characters and the audience, creating a lifelike presence that goes so often unseen. However, as soon as that moment of appreciation has arrived, immediately it has gone. From then on there remains an awkward ambience that seems to drag down on the overall story that, by all accounts, disengages from the pre-created closeness.
Overall, Shame is a thoroughly engaging film and enjoyable throughout. McQueen has done well in creating a tangible depiction of sex-addiction whilst also, through the use of detailed characters in challenging situations, creating a level of empathy and understanding for the audience to relate to. Shame may not be the best film to be released this year, however it should forever remain one of the more talked about films of 2012… and not just for the shots of Fassbender’s penis.
Images reproduced from filmdates.co.uk, content.foxsearchlight.com and emotionsblog.history.qmul.ac.uk
Video reproduced from YouTube / ClevverMovies
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