Shame

November 18, 2012 at 6:53 pm | Posted in 2011 | Leave a comment

◊ ◊ ◊ ◊ ½

This was my first Steve McQueen film (the director, not the late actor).  I have not seen his first film, “Hunger,” though I want to now.  This was a harrowing story of a deeply broken man who is acting out sexually.  He has no ability to connect with anyone emotionally, even his own family.  He dreads intimacy but needs sex and seeks orgasms constantly throughout the day: by himself, with prostitutes, co-workers, strangers, anyone…  Though not ever stated, it is broadly hinted at that he and his sister, played by Carrie Mulligan (“An Education”), have had a sexual relationship at some point in the past.  Their boundaries are frighteningly bad and frighteningly real.  At one point, she makes reference to their childhoods; these are people shaped by trauma.  I suspect we are meant to assume that they experienced some level of sexual abuse, though this is never stated.  The main character is played with a brave intensity by Michael Fassbender.  I first saw him in the little seen British film, “Fish Tank,” but he came to international attention with his role of the American captain in “Inglorious Basterds.”  His rage, pain and self-loathing are in every moment that he is on screen.  He must have been exhausted by the process of this film.  There is also a scene in a restaurant, as perfect as any I have seen this year, where he meets with a woman on a “date.”  She is going about trying her best to make “first date” conversation and he is not even capable of that level of intimacy.  The actress, Nicole Beharie (who I have never heard of), did a stunning job of displaying all the woman’s emotions (hope, nervousness, discomfort, uncertainty) as their date progressed.  Watching her trying to stay optimistic despite growing evidence that this man was off-kilter somehow, was a film lover’s joy; every moment of that date felt completely real to me.  I read a rumor that they will offer Fassbender a nomination for “A Dangerous Method” because he deserves it for this movie but they cannot acknowledge an NC-17 film.  I can tell you, he deserves it more than Clooney or Pitt or most of those who will likely be nominated.

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