Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Shame (2011)

Shame (2011)
Rated NC-17
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carrie Mulligan, James Badge Dale
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Running time: 101 Minutes

Quick summary (from IMDB): In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life – which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction – is disrupted when his sister Sissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

The entire buzz around this movie centered on one thing: Michael Fassbender’s unit. While it did make several completely unnecessary appearances in the movie, it’s not really a good reason to see a movie, nor does it make the movie good. Hats off to him for having the…courage…do bear all for several scenes. I know I couldn’t do it.

Fassbender is a talented actor, as he has demonstrated in the past (Inglourious Basterds, X-Men), and he does a great job in Shame, when he’s clothed. He’s a dude struggling with a crippling addiction, and you really felt it. My problem with the movie arose because, aside from a strong performance from a talented actor, there wasn’t really all that much else going on.

Yeah, there was the weird and tense relationship with his sister, and that brought out some drama, but aside from a few brief scenes of intensity, Shame was just a series of long, drawn out and artistic scenes of introspection punctuated with graphic and explicit sex scenes. I get it that you can’t really convey sexual addiction without the sex, but at times it way too much. I also respect the fact that they didn’t fight the NC-17 rating, and stuck with the film as they intended it. They probably could have cut some scenes, got the R rating and made way more money, but they didn’t compromise and stuck to their guns.

I think they tried to hard to make Shame an artistic movie, rather than making a good movie that was also artistic. You can’t really make an artsy explicit movie that’s really good, there’s an imbalance between the three forces that usually ends up hurting the story. You’ll end up pushing the envelope on the explicit scenes, going as far as you can, or trying too hard to be artistic and poignant. The same thing happened with Showgirls. Except that Shame is a better movie than Showgirls (but nothing is funnier than the edited-for-TV Showgirls on VH1).

I can safely say I will never watch Shame again, I have no need to, nor do I have the desire to see it again. Once was more than enough.

3 out of 5 stars

Better than Avatar


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