Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Joyless Street

SHAME, 2011, Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) is a 30-something man living comfortably in New York, balancing a busy job and active social life.  When his wayward sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) turns up in his apartment, his carefully managed lifestyle spirals out of control. From award-winning direcor Steve McQueen, SHAME is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

Thus the blurb tastefully leads us into this absorbing story of sex addiction spiralling way out of control.
One has to admire the commitment of the principals. Fassbender - that other man of the moment like Channing Tatum, below - is naked a lot, compulsively masturbates, has anonymous hook-ups and pays for sex when he hardly needs to. But of course he is not enjoying any of it - that threesome he has sees him more and more anguished .... he gets beaten up, and - for a straight guy - has to get his rocks off in a gay club.  Sex addition with its anonymous encounters and on-line porn can become addictive to us all at different times, but as seen here it is taken to the limit. It leaves Brandon in a constant state of melancholy, being unable to really connect with anyone. He must be cinema's biggest loner since Viggo Mortenson in EASTERN PROMISES. (2000s label). He and his sister are two lost souls dying on the inside, can they help each other? We don't really get to know them, and there is no easy resolution to their needs - we just observe them for a while ... one wants them to find solace and human affection.

New York is a character here too - so bleak and sterile and joyless, as Brandon rides the subways endlessly looking at women. That stunning sequence near the start sees one woman becoming aware of his attention and slowly starting to get into it, then realising what she is doing and horrified dashes from the carriage as he follows her. 

His sister Sissy seems even more damaged, needy and distressed than he is, and once again Carey Mulligan is simply astounding, making so much of the material, as in AN EDUCATION, DRIVE etc. . Fassbender too continues to astound us, it is all a worthy follow-up to McQueen's HUNGER (which I now want to see again). One  wants to see what they do next. SHAME got 5-star reviews all round, but is hardly a film one will want to return to. Good to hear Blondie's "Rapture" again too at the disco.

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