Watched Aug 08, 2012
Steve Grzesiak’s review:
When I get faced with a serious piece of cinema like Shame, I always feel like there is a need within me to be completely frivolous with any opinion or review on it or response to it. Yet tomorrow I might watch Missing In Action and attempt to pass complex and serious minded theory on it that such a film doesn't really need.
Because, apparently, even though I'm a 35 year old married man with four children, three guinea pigs and a full time job, I still can't stop myself from sniggering slightly at Michael Fassbender's sex face - and I'm quite sure neither Steve McQueen nor Fassbender intended that to be the reaction. I'm also quite sure the fault is with me and not with the film, even more so when I am working as a writer in adult entertainment and seeing 'sex faces' on an almost daily basis practically ad nauseum.
But then it struck me that, actually, as much of a sniggering immature berk as I almost certainly am, as a whole Shame never really took me to a place where I'm supposed to take it so deadly seriously that the final sex scene of the film did the job that it's supposed to. Really and truly, to me Shame is actually a pretty simple film about sex addiction and not much else.
There is almost certainly an attempt at something deeper here, and I've either completely missed it (likely) or it's not actually there at all (unlikely). Having said that, it doesn't actually matter if the latter unlikely event happens to be the case because Shame is still a very fine film indeed. It really doesn't need to be any deeper than it is, nor should it feel the need to be.
As a look at addiction, whether it be to sex or anything else for that matter, it is one of the very best portrayals that I have ever seen. It is less interested in how Fassbender's character got to this point but more interested in how it will mutate once his flighty sister Carey Mulligan pops up in his shower and proceeds to take over his apartment, thus knocking things off kilter for him.
That's fine with me. I was a little surprised at how predictable it was at times (except for the near-ending on the subway train - a nice piece of misdirection but perhaps more befitting a thriller than this kind of film) and as charming and handsome as Fassbender is I simply was not really buying that all these women would fall at his feet. Amongst other things. I thought his relationship with work colleague Nicole Beharie was too easy a way to portray an obvious side effect of his addiction, although her performance was thoroughly enjoyable.
Fassbender is tremendous, but never better than when feeding off the complex relationship with Mulligan. She is the best thing here by quite some distance and, if she's not already there, she's turning into a quite fabulous actress. No-one else really gets much of a look-in, but that is fair enough - on this form, you really don't want the camera to be in any other place than focusing on the two leads.
This is a very good film and I'm sure a second viewing would probably open up some layers that I may well have missed here. Like I say, though, it's alright for this film to be just about a bloke who likes getting his end away WAY too much and his sister messing things up for him.
Tee hee, I saw his willy.