Shame ★★★★

Film Club Secret Cinema Pick

What is it about the nighttime aesthetic? The yellow glow shining down, the shadows casting across the cityscape? Horror films tend to use nighttime to create a sense of dread, but dramas tend to use it for this melancholic state of both comfort and loneliness. How? Why?

The night blankets the world in a way that covers and blinds us to what is actually going on. The streets empty, and people gather together. Looking out the window, you won’t see anyone... but you know where everyone is. During the day, you see a full world, and you can’t help but constantly be bombarded with the fact that the world is full, and you’re alone. The night becomes refuge, allowing us to have to work harder to know that there’s others out there.

But we still feel most alone at night. Without the sensory overload, we succumb to our mind’s worst distractions. We know that there are other people out there who are at home with their loved ones, and we can’t help but long for the one thing you feel like everyone else has. Underneath the pitch black sky, though... there is an out.

Not necessarily a positive out, mind you. Just an escape. The nighttime allows you to give in to your more carnal desires, without the guilt. The yellow city lights beam down and make everything seem as if it’s the same shade; your true colors no longer revealed. The shadows cover up your face, blanking your emotions. Your shame is gone. But only for the night.

Shame uses the night as a way for Fassbender to try escape. It’s his moment to cave to his addictions, his desire to escape loneliness without the commitment. We never hear this said. We just feel it. We don’t feel it the most at night, though. It’s when the light shines.

Carey Mulligan is the light, the daytime to his nighttime. She is what makes him feel shame; he has hidden for so long, and she has come into his life and discovered all that he’s hidden away. She’s trying to help, but little does the audience know that during the night, she’s slipping away too. Fassbender thinks the night, his distractions can hide it all away.

The daytime always comes though. The movie makes sure of that. When it comes, the shame hits, and there’s no escape. The night can hide things temporarily, but there’s a reason we’re awake during daylight hours. It’s where our true selves are, and no amount of hiding in the dark can erase that.

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