Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Movie Review: SHAME: Raw. Real. Emotional.
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) lives in NYC, has a nice apartment, and a well paying job. He seems to have friends and goes out. He also has sex a lot. He's an addict, and his routine is thrown into a disarray when his talented, yet messed up younger sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), needs a place to stay and moves in with him.
Shame is a complicated story that is told in a quiet way with sometimes just a look or a hand movement. Steve McQueen directs with a keen eye to character and development. The build up is slow and requires our full attention. We are watching deeply flawed characters who lash out, act out, judge one another, hurt themselves, are charming, and full of pain. The way they behave is frightening. They hit what we would think is rock bottom, but is it? Rock bottoms are all personal experiences. So the ending is left open because these characters feel very real and real people don't always have an ending that is tied up neatly with a bow.
There is one scene that was absolutely beautifully shot. It's a scene in a fancy lounge bar where Sissy sings a song. The camera stays close to her face and we watch her transform before us. In that one song, we see all her hopes and dreams and failures. We see her brother's too.
Shame is a film for mature audiences. It has graphic scenes, but the most uncomfortable moments are those scenes where we don't know what will happen. The quiet ones. The ones where we sense a rage or addiction is boiling over. The fear of what will happen if or when it does.
This film is for moviegoers who want to be challenged, and who aren't uncomfortable with being a fly on the wall. It is a voyeuristic journey into the deepest and sometimes darkest recesses of the human psyche.