Shame grabbed me and didn’t let go until the fade to black at the very end. This is not an easy movie to enjoy, that’s for sure. The thing is, it’s grown up. It’s serious and seriously grown up. Then again, it taps into an adolescent ignorance so profound it’s enlightening to think of how we all either grow up to behave in a way that carries the pain of childhood or in a way that overcomes the difficulties we have had.
Addiction is a human condition that’s not going anywhere anytime soon. We are lucky to have it really, it teaches us. It kicks our weak asses, yes, and still teaches us some things about being alive. Sex is what it is, and yet it’s so complicated I don’t think we will ever be able to let it just be what it is, reproduction. We are indulgent and the lead character of this movie, along with his sister seem to wallow in self indulgence. That’s the turmoil that’s hidden by their outter appearances. Carey Mulligan is incredible, absolutely incredible with the delivery of her lines, the struggles she is dealing with on the inside, and her confusion. I hope she got some acknowledgement for this role, she deserves it.
Brother, good job, sleek style, snotty record player, smooth with the ladies, he’s a good catch from the outside. The sister, a cool singer with a clumsy but defined style, kitchy and welcoming. Too welcoming. She wants the world to love her. He wants to screw the whole world. The pain they may or may not have endured in their childhoods has sent them both down internal lives that are full of hurt and emptiness.
Along with this heavy subject matter, the whole movie is pieced together with amazing performances, sets, direction, nuances that simply do not come around very often. There are moments of dialogue that are so riveting I can picture them in my mind still and they linger, in a good way. Like I said, it’s inappropriate to say I enjoyed Shame. It’s more like an uncomfortable stimulation of, well, parts of one’s mind. If you are stimulated sexually by this movie, scenes of decadent exploits, painful moments of self degradation, you might consider some intense psycho-sexual counseling.
The city looks amazing. There is a scene when Fassbender, leading man, takes a run down the block and the combination of his graceful gait along with the gorgeous way the city is shot, the lighting, it’s one of my favorite shots in a movie, ever….no shit.
There are sets where I felt icky just to watch anyone fictionally inhabit them, so that’s a bonus. The visceral reaction to something like a set in a movie, that’s why I have been in love with these motion pictures most of my life. Whoever designed and dressed these sets, and chose the outside locations, they deserve some kind of awards. It’s subtle, yes, but the places these characters live and work and spend time needs to be so utterly convincing in a serious movie like this one, and that they did achieve.
There are quiet moments, resonating with hurt, lust, depression, anger, that whole man vs. himself situation taken to a very very dark place. It’s done so well, the crumbling of our leading man is obvious, but still comes almost as a surprise as he falls apart bit by bit.
DO NOT watch this with anyone under the age of, hmmm, let’s say 30. Yes, it is intense and requires a seasoned emotional wall to throw all the fragments of human brokenness up against. I would recommend renting it along side something like Year of the Dog, or Fly Away Home, or something else that can build up a balance of “people have great potential to be great” with “people are doomed”.
- Focus On Michael Fassbender – Short EPK style featurette, doesn’t really say much.
- Director Steve McQueen – Another EPK style featurerette, Director Steve McQueen gives some insight into the story of Shame.
- The Story Of Shame – A third EPK featurette, when you get to this one you have a serious feeling of Deja Vu.
- A Shared Vision – And again another EPK featurette. All four of these are super short and are basically the kind of thing you see on HBO or Starz to promote an upcoming film.
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character With Michael Fassbender – A short 5 minute interview with Fassbender.
- DVD & Digital Copy
Cover Art and Menus: 2/10
Boring and boring. An absence of creativity and personalty goes from the cover straight through to the menu. It’s not subdued to let the movie shine, it’s just plain boring.
Audio & Video: 8/10
Shame is a beautiful looking movie no doubt with some really rich photography from DP Sean Bobbit. The movie was shot on 35mm film and seeing as the movie takes place mostly at night the high speed film stock used does make the film grainier than usual. Still this is all a non issue as it gives the movie a wonderful gritty feel that goes along with the theme perfectly.
Shame is mostly a talky (and sexy) movie so the grunts and groans of Fassbender and friends are mostly relegated to the front speakers. There are occasions when the rear speakers light up but it’s usually when the film moves out into the city with the hustle and bustle of life. Shame is presented in DTS-HD lossless Master Audio and sounds exceptional the entire time. Voices are anchored and it’s never hard to hear what the actors are saying.
Shame is a controversial movie that I enjoyed (not sure I can say enjoyed actually). It’s the only mainstream movie I can think of that actually portrays Sex as a stale ugly act. If you are buying this movie for titillation you should probably look elsewhere.
I don’t think of this as a movie I will revisit many times. The price online is between $25 and $30, which is just too much to spend on a movie. I would rent it, soak it up, pop some corn and have a cup of tea, then watch something really funny and life affirming. It’s worth more than the cost of a rental in the quality department, but when I think of it just sitting on a shelf and your memory of it is the only interaction left, well, the goodness of the movie doesn’t justify the full blown price.
Overall Score 8/10