Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)
This second collaboration of actor-director Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen is a fascinating tale of the modern day sickness of sex addiction of the emptiness and the isolation of the post-modern world. Brandon (Fassbender) is a successful executive living in New York City and he is addicted to sex. Women are entering his bed one after the other. Some are complete strangers, others are prostitutes. He also masturbates in front of porn, web cam sex, at his office stall, and every way he possibly can. Nothing seems to satisfy his void and his needs. One day his distressed sister (Carey Mulligan) comes at his apartment and they sure have many subtext tensions. He was never returning her calls and he seems to have a retain when it some to intimacy with people.
Back when Shame came out in December 2011, I remember how most of the reviews were mentioning Fassbender’s full frontal advantaged nakedness. However, not many reviews have highlighted how great an actor he was and how he was literally robbed from a best actor Oscar nomination in 2012. It is a role of few words but the presence that this man has on the screen is haunting and he is his character. The subtlety of his acting and the high level of performance that Brandon needed is without a doubt mastered.
When mentioning the acting of Shame, one must not forget Carey Mulligan’s personification of Brandon’s sister and her perfect pairing with Herr Fassbender. She is probably the most talented woman of her generation and even it is in a supporting role she gives one of the best performance of the decade.
The ensemble is tightly held together by McQueen’s subtle directing. His artistic vision is uncompromising and demonstrate that Hunger, his previous effort, was not a case of one hit wonder by a fresh new director. This kind of simple but beautiful cinematography of heavy greys and dark rooms and the almost pure whites of Brandon’s apartment are perfect for this rejection of puritanism that sex addiction represents in our society.
Overall, we are in the presence of another near-masterpiece by Steve McQueen, but just like his first effort, the aforementioned Hunger, the subject matter and the way it is approached tends to put things on the heavy side and are very involving features. One can easily get upset by the level of emotion and how raw things are presented by the precise film making that McQueen produces. It is almost like a perfect picture; sometimes it is interesting to have some rough edges.