In a shameless (ha Shame) attempt to court more page views than necessary when referencing this movie and the two stars of the film, Michael Fassbender and Michael Fassbender’s penis, I decided to go back to this movie for today’s post. My initial review of the film netted a middle of the road rating of 3 out of 5, but it wasn’t for a lack of liking the overall product. For me, Shame was a daring film that attempted, in the most artistic and graphic way possible, to showcase the pain behind the life of a sex addict. To be fair, how can someone pity a man like Michael Fassbender and his counterpart, his penis. I am sure most people (men who end up seeing this) will envy the life this man leads. I mean he has sex, like a lot, in this movie, but it isn’t the act of copulation that is explored. It is the psychological connection between the act of sex and the meaning that derived from it. An unfathomable thing to think about that something so pleasurable to a lot of people might be destructive to another.
Awesome marketing campaign poster
I am going to try and be an adult about refraining from making the usual sexual puns when talking about this movie and its stars, Fassbender and his wang (hello page views!). It will be hard (……) to not make the joke, but for the sake of saving face and small credibility, I will try. For everything that Shame tries to do, the film does get a bit lost in the style of the film. The substance is what is supposed to drive the narrative but it seemed more interested in making the most arty looking porno film around. Director Steve McQueen (not the cool Steve McQueen), does come from a background in art, so an artsy porn film certainly not outside of his wheelhouse. The film is gorgeous, there is no denying that fact, but a little self indulgence goes a long way with Shame. Too many art house tropes and overused themes kind of drag the mood of the film down and if I ever see another suicide set to classical music again I am going to lose my shit.
I can’t fault the fact that McQueen uses more art than substance, but there is a strong story that needed to be told and it gets a bit lost in the style. Shame is truly about the destructive nature of sex for one individual. From meaningless sex that Fassbender engages in, every contortion of his face and clenching of his muscles show more than something enjoyable. He is addicted, compulsive and it will be the thing that eventually brings him down. So many scenes of the movie can be explored in depth to get to the bottom (gah, sorry) of the issues at hand. From his interactions with his sister played by Carey Mulligan, to his attempts at forming a meaningful, physical contact based on love, the film brings us to the edge of the situation, but never finishes. I guess in a way, that’s what it feels like for Fassbender’s character, never being complete and satisfied. We want answers and exploration, but all we get is frustrated and left feeling empty.
The film is powerful and provocative, even with such a graphic depiction of sex reserved for the privacy of a bedroom or computer screen for some people. Though the movie is the most artful porno ever filmed, the acting done by Fassbender and his member is astonishing. Seething and vulnerable, he can convey so much without saying anything. His emotions are hidden throughout the movie, but only surface when he begins something sexual. It is a titillating movie that you have to see, merely because it exists. I won’t say that it is groundbreaking or one of the better movies of the past year, but Shame does push the boundary of film and subject. Often to places where people are out of their protective, comfort zone.
Below is a link to my previous review of the film…
Fassbender has a difficult task of making the act of sex seem painful and joyless, almost agonizing. The labored look he has in the opening of the film immediately tells you that there is something just off about him. He is a recluse for a reason, a man seemingly incapable of letting people into his life. He hides his porn in his own house, he is protective about his computer and dispels any attempts at a relationship because of what he is. full review here