So, I’ll address the elephant in the room first off; Michael Fassbender was robbed of an Academy Award nomination for Shame. Instead, the nomination went to Demian Bichir, for a role in a film that, thanks to Wikipedia, I found out he garnered absolutely no other nominations for aside from the SAG Award, so how he beat out the frickin’ Volpi Cup winner for Best Actor is beyond me. Biggest robbery of that year’s Oscars, in my opinion. But regardless, Fassbender is but one aspect of Shame that makes this a film worth watching.
Now, if you’re not comfortable with nudity or sexual situations, you might do best to stay away from this one, and that’s putting it mildly. The film’s content naturally makes it adult-oriented, though it’s not overtly pornographic; it deals with a man struggling with a sex addiction, so there’s gonna be some racy action, so be prepared for it.
The name of the game is subtext. There is so much subtext, so much underlying what goes on in the film and implies what comes after that the film itself seems but a single chapter in a volume about this man’s life, and we only see one section. Director Steve McQueen (no, not that Steve McQueen) brings an artist’s eye to the picture, composing each shot with attention to detail, focus, and the elements of the shot to craft a distinctive vision and theme that is ever-pervasive. The film spends its time drawing you into its mood, so that once you’re there, you are free to feel what the film wants you to feel. I mentioned Fassbender, but his equal in this film is Carey Mulligan; both characters are like brick walls facing each other for the dialogue and the narrative to solidly ricochet back and forth like tennis balls, and the narrative itself was masterfully done.
The main problem I had with the film is the narrative transition, the character arc that implies that the main character has changed, somehow, in some way, over the course of the film. There is none. Brandon, the protagonist, is in exactly the same position at the end of the film as when he starts it, so it seems like the film had no real story to tell, almost a waste of time and effort. Weirdly enough, though, the film still manages to be engaging, or at least it was for me, but again, after the end you don’t get a sense of accomplishment or fulfillment, because the main character didn’t go anywhere. Still, Shame is a brave, brave film. It dares to go where I don’t think any film has ever gone before, but the film is just conventional enough to be accessible, and as long as you’re not one to bat an eye at the content, this is an experience to have, for sure.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10