Newest Review: ... all adults can enjoy. ---Cast--- Michael Fassbender ... Brandon Carey Mulligan ... Sissy Mari-Ange Ramirez ... Alex... more
It's is shameful that Shame doesn't get more credit
Member Name: Jojoborne
Advantages: fantastic acting. provocative and shocking.
Disadvantages: Some may find the subject matter a little distasteful.
Michael Fassbender is fast becoming one of my favourite actors. I just hope because of his hunk status and huge female following that he doesn't get attention for the wrong reasons. Brad Pitt's career, although superb would've been even greater received by critics were it not for certain tabloids and websites that tried to exploit his good looks. Fassbender is a versatile actor and I can see him becoming one of the greats if he keeps his feet on the ground; judging by interviews I have seen with him, this won't be a problem.
The movie 'Shame' was directed by Steve McQueen, the director of 'Hunger' with the same name as the iconic actor. For those of you who have seen Hunger, you will know that McQueen is no stranger to breaking taboos and showing the situation exactly how it is. Shame is no different and as I mentioned, I hope Fassbender's performance is remembered for its ferocity and brilliance rather than the full frontal nude scenes. I saw a lot more of Fassbender than I really wanted to in this movie but it is not added to hype the movie in anyway and is not crassly done. Shame is a hard-hitting story about a man who cannot control his sexual urges and yet finds it impossible to sate those urges by way of a normal sexual relationship. Let's take a look at the story.
Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) lives his life in a compact bubble of sexual perversion and uncontrollable urges that he must act on. He has an important job and goes to work like the rest of us but not before watching porn or web cam sex with his breakfast; at least, that is, if he hasn't had a prostitute over for the night.
His work day is one of meetings and deadlines and a daily pop to the Men's room to masturbate in private. One day his computer is taken away and his boss (James Badge Dale) tells him that a virus has been found on it. Brandon returns home one evening to find music playing in his apartment. He finds his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) in the shower and she stands there naked for what would be considered too long and very uncomfortable to most brothers and sisters.
Sissy is imposing on Brandon's life and his normal schedule and sexual desires are disrupted by her. He takes his boss to see his sister sing at a club and is emotionally moved by it. His boss ends up sleeping with his sister in Brandon's bed, which Brandon cannot deal with.The next day at work Brandon's boss tells him that his computer is filthy and full of porn. Brandon looks perplexed and his boss suggests that it was his intern or someone hacking into his system.Brandon throws all of his porn out (and there is a lot of it) and tries to go on a normal date with a co-worker, Marianne (Nicole Beharie) from his office building. The date is fine but the second meeting, which Brandon instigates and rents out a hotel room for, does not go quite as expected.Brandon spirals out of control, after demanding that his sister leave he is stifled by a world of gay sex, prostitution, violence and depravity. Can he beat his compulsion before it beats him?
This really is an adult film in the sense that it is defined by its grown up approach to a subject that is often riddled with unnecessary juxtaposing of what people's perceptions of sexual deviance or desire usually are. When we think of the term 'Adult Movie', we tend to think of a film of pornographic nature; either that or one of intelligence that might mean we have to think a little. This movie is of the latter creed, although the subject matter obviously contains a lot of reference to pornographic material.Fassbender is brilliant in this movie and plays a character that seems normal on the outside but is devoid of any caring, human emotion on the inside. He had some bottle to film some of the scenes in this movie and he pulled it off rather well to coin a rather distasteful analogy.The characters sex drive is through the roof but because of his lack of any emotional attachment he has to sate his desire in any way that he can, as long as it gives him that sexual high; a high he cannot reach with normal sex or at least sex that ninety-nine per cent of the population would deem normal.Carey Mulligan is fantastic as Brandon's sister Sissy and they play off each other fantastically. Something obviously went on with them while they were younger and there is almost an awkward silence in each conversation that they have. When Sissy begs Brandon to go and hear her sing he promises to go as he has said many times that he would. He takes his boss along with him. Carey Mulligan really sings and she is mesmerising to say the very least. She sings a slowed down, bluesy version of 'New York, New York' and it really is fantastic. Viewers are treated to the whole song and the magic part about this is the fact that Michael Fassbender and James Badge Dale had never heard Mulligan sing. The director Steve McQueen had them visit a real club at 3am in the morning where he had set up Mulligan to sing the song. The emotions and reactions to the song that you see are real reactions. Fassbender is tearful and I can believe it was real because Mulligan's performance is heart rendering; it really is that good. So she is not only a fantastic actress, but the girl can hold a tune too; and then some.There are some shocking moments in the movie and again I am generalising here because what might seem shocking to some may not seem shocking to others, but I am going out on a limb and assuming that most people reading this review are not sexual deviants or regular watches of pornography.
There is a scene in a seedy bar where Brandon virtually sexually assaults a young girl and then taunts her boyfriend with that very fact. He is beaten badly and after failing to get into a night club he ends up in a gay sex club where anything goes. There are some hard-hitting scenes in the film and some of them must have been difficult to shoot. Fassbender is so credible in the role that you don't for one second think that it is just a movie and just actors. He is believable to the extent that you have to remind yourself it was him after the film ends.
The scene with the office girl Marianne, on the second date, totally sums up Brandon's problems and although you are sickened by him you also feel sorry for him even if you can't exactly empathise with him. This scene was filmed on location at Manhattan's 'Standard' hotel and part of the shot was Fassbender having sex with a woman, standing up against a full length glass window. People in the streets below saw this and the Fassbender and the actress waved to people during takes, while still nude. The hotel has become notorious since the movie and couples are regularly seen having sex against the full length windows.
There is a scene at the beginning of the movie with a girl on the subway. She knows that Brandon is looking at her and she starts to respond. But just what is it that holds her back? Was she told not to talk to strangers as a child? Is it just that safety mechanism that is built into all of us or does she somehow sense that Brandon is not quite right and could be dangerous? Brandon follows her off the tube but loses her in the crowd and you sort of feel relieved that she got away.We see the girl again at the end of the movie with a different slant on it and you can judge for yourself. The girl is played by Lucy Walters who has been really busy since filming Shame and has a number of film and TV appearances that are being released as we speak and early next year.
As far as the direction itself goes, I would say McQueen does an amazing job. It is a movie that allows you to fall in love with New York all over again. The shots on the subway are beautifully crafted and the scene where Fassbender goes for a run at night gives testament to what a beautiful and vibrant city it really is. The scene is shot from Fassbender's side and we see him running along the pavement or sidewalk. As he passes each bloke you begin to wonder whether it is shot in real time or whether there is a time delay process involved. It really is a great shot. The cinematography is also very vivid throughout the movie and it runs as a sort of homage to New York. Add to that the song from Mulligan and it really does give you that 'Big Apple' feel.
The end sequence with Sissy is rather harrowing and lingers in your mind after seeing the movie.
The whole movie was filmed in New York, which is strange for a UK based production. Film Four and the UK Film Council in conjunction with See-saw Films had a budget of 6.5 million but the movies director Steve McQueen could not afford to film the movie in the UK, so he decided to move it to New York. The strange thing here is that the US company Fox Searchlight Pictures only paid four hundred thousand for the US distribution rights. The movie only just made that amount in the opening weekend and only grossed just over four million overall; so at a loss of two and a half million it was not a success commercially. A big part of that was probably the fact that it would not have played at a lot of mainstream cinemas and its money for the most part would have come from smaller independent cinemas and art houses. I can't for the life of me figure out how it was cheaper to move cast and an enormous crew to New York to film. Maybe the fact that the whole movie was done and dusted in twenty-five days had something to do with it. The movie was picked up by Momentum pictures for the release of the DVD.
It is not a movie for everyone, that is for sure, but it is worth seeing for the performances of Fassbender and Mulligan alone. It lingers in your mind a little after the credits have rolled and gives you a mixture of feelings and thoughts. I felt dirty, sad, shocked, exhausted and entertained in that the performances were amazing. One thing I will take away from the movie is that Michael Fassbender is one hell of a terrific actor and I feel that had the film had another actor in it I may not have made it through the whole process; and that is testament to Fassbender's skill at what he does. Overall you will either hate it or look beyond the subject matter and see a film that is both provocative and thought-provoking. This film is about human nature and about life, how fragile it can be and how quickly it can swing from one mode to another.
The standard DVD (released on May 14th 2012) includes a few extras including cast interviews and theatrical trailer. The Blue-ray version includes Q&A with Michael Fassbender (35 minutes in length) from the Hackney Picture House - January 2012 with Dave Calhoun; Film Editor, Time Out. Film clips and Q&A (including audience questions) discussing his filmography, working with director Steve McQueen, the draw to the film, his first reaction to the idea of the film, the duality of the character of Brandon vs. being an addict, working with Carey Mulligan and the setting of New York.
Interview with Michael Fassbender (3 minutes) discussing the character of Brandon, on sex addiction, the challenges of the film and on working with Steve McQueen and Carey Mulligan.
Interview with Carey Mulligan (2 minutes) discussing the character of Sissy, on preparing and getting the role and on working with Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender.
There is also an interactive menu with scene access and trailers.
There is also a special double-pack version of the DVD and Blue Ray.
Summary: A man's sexual appetite threatens to consume him.