Friday, 13 January 2012
Technically it's spot on, but not in a clinical way - McQueen is more than just a master of all the tools and talent at his disposal, and, having arrived in the movie world three years ago with the equally stark Hunger, cements his position as a member of an elite group of fearless and original filmmakers.
Michael Fassbender's troubled sex addict Brandon is a perfectly realised character, the likes of which you rarely see in cinema these days, and the film is admirably unafraid to tackle the issues presented by a man who simply can't stop himself fucking things. It's been hailed as provocative, and hopefully it's an an openness and willingness to discuss stuff like sex addiction that's provoked, rather than spurts of outrage from middle-England Daily Mail readers. It's a film that needs to be seen, if only to open our eyes to a side of life most of us are either unaware of or unwilling to even contemplate.
All of which makes it massively annoying that Shame left me absolutely flaccid. I didn't feel anything while I watched it. Not a sausage. With one eye on the screen and one on my watch, I found myself incapable of arousing any empathy or sympathy for Brandon, and the film didn't occupy my thoughts from the moment I withdrew from the cinema until the time I came to write this.
It's hard to put my finger on why I failed to connect with Shame bearing in mind I admire so much about it; maybe I need empathetic characters, maybe I need backstory, maybe I'm just not a fan of character studies. But for me the film feels simultaneously too long and too short: I felt like it could have done what it did in a fraction of the time, but with an extended length could have taken us deeper and more satisfyingly into Brandon's fractured psyche.
But these are minor quibbles. Shame and I just weren't meant to get it on, it's that simple. It's still better than most of the junk out there though, so fuck it, go and see it.