Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shame (and Michael Fassbender's penis)

I'll now disappoint all the people who stumbled onto this post from google because of the penis reference. (And another warning: This will be a short post... I'm bagged. I'm basically out of the house 14-15 hours each day during TIFF. Love it. But it's tiring.)

One of the best films I've seen so far at this year's Toronto International Film Festival was Steve McQueen's Shame.

It's not an easy film and goodness knows whether it will ever be released in the US (because of all of the nudity and sex and full frontal penis) but wow, it's a powerful film.

And, more relevant to this blog, a lesson in "show, don't tell" -- particularly where it comes to revealing character without revealing much backstory... Also it made a great use of foreshadowing to create tension.

The film is about a man with a sexual obsession. A man who uses sex to block out feeling any emotions. To the point where the one time he tries to have sex with someone he knows and likes, he can't. (Sorry, that was kind of spoilerish.)

The man's world, one in which all he does is work, watch porn, and f8ck strangers, is disrupted when his sister (also clearly damaged) lands on his doorstep to live with him for a while. She's clearly also messed up and we see this both through their interactions and through a heart wrenching rendition of New York, New York she sings in a night club (sister is played by Carey Mulligan). We never learn why these two siblings are so damaged. The only clue is her telling him via a voice mail late in the movie, "We aren't bad people, we just come from a bad place." That line tells us what we've already figured out at that point... that something happened to these two in their childhoods that messed them up. And I suppose it doesn't matter exactly what happened in the past, but most writers would tell us or add a flashback or something. And I admired that Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen did not.

Each of the two siblings has chosen a different but very destructive way to dull his or her pain and the movie builds to a moving climax where we finally see the hero emote.

I liked the slight ambiguous ending, too... Actually, would like to see the movie again to decide for sure what I think he'll do the second the movie stops. I think he changed during the movie. I hope so.

My final comment: Fassbender naked. Wow. Just wow.

9 comments:

Alli Sinclair said...

You're usually spot-on with your reviews, Maureen and I look forward to seeing this movie. Thanks for the post!

Eileen said...

But is his penis wearing glasses?

Maureen McGowan said...

He totally could have rocked glasses ;)

Sinead M said...

Now I really want to see this movie.... not just for the penis...

Ken Woychesko said...

PSA: You're all a bunch of naughty, naughty girls!

Maureen McGowan said...

LOL, Ken. That's why you love us.

Ken Woychesko said...

Here I always thought I was mysterious and layered, but you read me like a book!

NB: this post's word verification is "inishies": noun (pl; singular: inishy); def: The fabulous "can't miss" book idea that in reality is only a stepping stone to the real subject.

Molly O'Keefe said...

I just watched Fassbender in X-Men first class on the airplane. he was totally convincing as Magneto - would have been more convincing if he'd flashed some full frontal...

Amanda said...

Fassbender's Full Frontal..... I am now counting down the days for Shame. Woo-hoo!

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