#29 Shame (2011) Dir. Steve McQueen
This is the kind of movie that comes along all too rarely. As much as I adored McQueen’s Hunger (it was my favourite movie of 2008) I’ve tried to stay clear of the buzz surrounding Shame because that’s how I experienced Hunger and I think a lot of that went into why that film knocked me on my ass so hard. Fassbender wasn’t a household name, McQueen was completely new to me and with that came a real sense of discovery and wonder. I’ve been excited for Shame but not desperate for it. The less I know the less chance there is of disappointment. It’s been out here in the UK for about two weeks now but I’ve put off watching it until the screenings died down. Anyway I took the plunge a few hours ago and I couldn’t take my eyes off of the screen for a second. I hate writing shit like that, especially about this kind of movie because that’s what everyone is saying but it deserves it.
McQueen has a style that’s completely cinematic, his stories are visual but rely so heavily on sound. He can create an intensely realistic atmosphere in seconds. Shame creates a world of it’s own, a world of nightlife New York but one seen purely through the eyes of an artist. This film isn’t better than Hunger but it’s an equal and a perfect companion piece. I expected something extreme from Shame, something shocking and taboo like the subject but it’s far from that. I remember is stirring up some controversy a few months back because of explicit content but fuck, are people scared to see some tits and a cock these days? The fact I went in expecting some shocking sex movie just shows how harmful that kind of stupid hooplah can be to movies. This is about as tasteful and as classy as movies come. You could put this thing in an exhibition. It’s visceral and it makes you feel, makes you think, it really fucking sucks you in from frame one.
I’m a fan of both Fassbender and Mulligan but it’s these two performances that they have both being building towards. They both deliver their finest work to date, without a doubt. I see people bitching a moaning that Ryan Gosling didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Drive, and yeah I adore Drive and Gosling is great but that aint an Oscar-worthy performance. All the dude had to do was clench his teeth, look cool and bulge his eyes every now and again (I’m not saying thats easy, but for someone like Gosling, Drive wasn’t exactly a daring and intense challenge to his acting skills, did people moan about Arnie not getting a nomination for Terminator? No. Same thing) People should really be screaming to the hills that Fassbender hasn’t been nominated. I take the Academy with a pinch of salt most of the time but in this instance it’s something I really think they’ve fucked up with. It’s pretty disgusting. He’s incredible in this movie. He owns the role and it’s hard to watch him perform it. It’s such a daring piece of work in that sense and he fearlessly takes it to the brink.
I loved Shame. Through and through. It simultaneously reminds you of the power of a still image as well as the exhilaration of a moving one, McQueen executes them both with a painters eye who’s primary paint is celluloid. He knows exactly what the fuck he’s doing in every scene. It’s only his second film but he has made his second masterpiece. Going overboard with the praise? Don’t care. This one really deserves it.