Michael Fassbender sure has everyone’s panties in a twist. A fact well-known to director and writer Steve McQueen, whose latest film, Shame, has been causing quite a stir, and not only due to Fassbender’s willy being shoved into the faces of audience members at festivals worldwide. A rating of NC-17 or X has drawn a big and eager crowd and screenings have been repeatedly packed, leaving many unsatisfied outside. Some people just can’t get no satisfaction, and this, coincidentally, is what Shame is all about.
Brandon (Fassbender) has an addiction. Love is his drug and he will have it any way he wants. Being ridiculously handsome doesn’t hurt his hunt for sex in New York city, a metropolis filled with lust and desire. When his younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) moves into Brandon’s bleak bachelor condo, bringing along baggage from their mutual past, his life starts slipping from his grasp.
Critics all agree that Fassbender performs admirably and his brilliance was confirmed as he won best actor at the Venice Film Festival.
“Fassbender gives a naked (figuratively and literally) performance that is all big emoting and subtle stillness in service of making a character that is not realistic per se, but quite interesting as multidimensional embodiment of type. He is the ‘ultimate sex addict,’ an uber-distillation of the themes and ideas that McQueen wants to get up on screen.” (Kurt Halfyard, Twitchfilm.com)
Not bad. Shame also scores highest of all films at TIFF, an A-, along with Miss Bala, A Separation, Take This Waltz and The Turin Horse, as votes pour in at criticWIRE. For comparison the highly rated The Descendants scores a B+ and Drive lands only a B.
As for the stir, it’s not unusual for brilliant actors to get great praise. What’s unusual is that Shame’s being distributed by Fox Searchlight without McQueen cutting a single frame, sticking to the NC-17 rating. This means a late 2011 release and a campaign for Fassbender come this award season, a campaign Fox is also making for Clooney and The Descendants.
Don’t rush to the cinema to get your wank on, though. According to Sharon Waxman at The Wire, the film’s sex is not sexy as such, despite its abundance, it’s the fully clothed moments, such as the one seen in the clip here above, that will get your heart racing. In fact you may find it very uncomfortable to watch.
“Canvassing people after the film, I found a lot of men who found the film very difficult to watch. The consensus seemed to be that the film exposed too fully male obsession. Some women I talked to had philosophical objections though they didn’t find it as discomfiting as men.” So, hardly a first date kind of movie then.
Now all that’s left is to wonder, will you blush or shout bravo come Shame’s release?