Friday, May 18, 2012
Hypothetically, if you were hired by a studio to write a low-budget drama about a sex addict, what do you think you'd put in your script? I imagine we'd all come up with the same ideas pretty quickly. We'd write a story about a guy who's distant and incapable of maintaining any sort of meaningful relationship. We'd write scenes with him trying to date someone, someone he really gets along with. And then when they go back to his place, he's unable to "get it up." His date would say, "it's nothing to be ashamed of," as she walks out the door. Smash cut to our sex addict "getting busy" with a prostitute.
Shame doesn't work because it's all too obvious - from Brandon's sex life, to his personal life and his relationship with his sister. I would say that there is more to analyze and discuss with that brother/sister relationship though. Clearly there's long and strange history between the two, given how comfortable they are around each other with their bodies and their sexuality. Like Jeff argues, though, there isn't enough to truly care about these two characters.
SPOILERS. I agree with Jeff's assessment on Sissy's suicide attempt; it's lacking in the emotional tug on your heartstrings. And yes, to sound like a broken record, it's completely obvious to have the film end in that way. The only thing Sissy can do to get her brother's attention is to slit her wrists. Suddenly, he realizes what he's about to lose. But has it truly changed Brandon? Of course we need to end the film with a shot of Brandon thinking about whether or not he's going to follow the married woman from the train.
But I do want to pause for a second. I enjoyed the brief moment when Brandon and Sissy are waiting on the subway platform and she rests her head on his shoulders. In that instance, we have a sincere and loving moment between brother and sister. I also enjoyed Carey Mullgian's singing; the rest of her scenes are mostly forgettable. Michael Fassbender is the best thing going for this film. He's very expressive and does a great job with the character. James Badge Dale does a nice job playing the outgoing douche...it showed me a whole other side to the guy I had only previously seen in Rubicon.
Jeff and I talked about this, but did Shame ever feel like American Psycho to you, Ben?
I don't know what to make of the shot of Brandon snorting cocaine. We only see him doing it once, but are we to assume that he's also a drug addict? I don't know why I'm so caught up on it, but for whatever reason it feels like an odd choice to me.
Another positive I will take away from this film is the date between Brandon and his co-worker, Marianne. I thought it was well-done in an awkwardly charming sort of way. I don't know, it felt very authentic to me, but maybe that's just because I can be very socially awkward at times. But Fassbender and Nicole Beharie have a lot of great faces during those scenes.
Anyway, most of my critiques stem from the script. I have no real problems with McQueen as a director. Maybe I'll see Hunger at some point here. But I had wanted to see Shame because it was one of the more talked about films of 2011. Now that I have seen it, I realize that it's mostly talked about due to its NC-17 rating.