Wednesday, 16 January 2013
Devouring Films: Shame
My own personal shame connected with Shame is that I only wanted to watch it because of Michael Fassbender's penis. I realise that this is a really bad reason to watch a film, but if you haven't seen the gif then I don't know what to say to you (if you have then you probably want to shake my hand and tell me 'well done!' for watching this. And, you know, thanks for that). But anyway, I pays my money for Netflix and when they have films on there that have gained a lot of praise and ALSO contain male full-frontal nudity... Well, I'm not sure how to resist that.
If you don't know what Shame is about, then the premise is essentially that Brandon (Fassbender) is a successful 30-something dude who works... doing something that's never really made clear, and whilst his whole life looks pretty good from the outside, he's actually a sex addict who, it becomes clear, really can't emotionally connect to anyone. In some top-notch character naming, Carey Mulligan plays his sister, Sissy (I see what they did there) who comes along and messes up his perfect-seeming (from the outside, remember) world and provides a lot of the story of the film. Without her, it would basically just be Fassbender wanking to internet porn, hiring prostitutes, and going to the mens toilets an awful lot at work.
And if you thought it wouldn't annoy me that both of the lead actors are English and yet played Americans then you would be WRONG, because why not just make them English? All kinds of people migrate to New York City, you know?
Anyway. So the film is absolutely gorgeous looking, and a lot of what it wants to do is achieved through this- it makes a lot of what Brandon does or looks at sexually look and feel sort of dirty and grim, AND very much like a drug addiction rather than something cool and desirable, and makes Sissy seem both very attractive and very vulnerable (both of which are true). Almost everything is revealed through the way the film looks, but there are some things that remain unrevealed even after the film ends, and I think that is what has kept me thinking about it even when I thought I wouldn't. The film ends without answers, without solutions, without a lot of hope, and you're left wondering what on earth happened for everyone to end up in such a sorry state in the first place. And I kind of love that.
Shame, then, is kind of bleak and kind of hopeless, and yet in the end you DO hope. You hope that Brandon can break free of his addiction, that Sissy can learn to stand on her own two feet; that above all things will be better and the people will be less damaged. There's nothing they can do about their pasts, but their futures are there for the writing (quite literally, since this is a film and all) and even though there's very little to suggest in the film that they will be better, still you want them to be. Or, at least I did. Basically, I apparently care about and believe in these characters enough that I want them to be ok, beyond the edges of the film; and that's really all I ask for from any kind of narrative.
Therefore, I guess, I liked Shame.