Shame (2011)

Plato, I think, is quoted for saying a wise man speaks because he has something to say, a fool speaks because he has to say something.  I have unburdened you, my valued readers, of my foolishness long enough.  It is time to get back in the game.

And as long as I am going to blather on pointlessly, I might as well write about something else that blathers on without a point.  And so to that point, let’s review Shame (2011).

Shame — directed by Steve McQueen and featuring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan — centers around the destructive sex addiction of a Manhattan businessman.  In truth, the subject of the movie should be rich material for a very engaging film, but Shame entirely left me feeling flat.

Reviews tout it as a “masterpiece” and “stunning.”  It even garners a fair amount of Oscar talk.  I’m not so sure why.  In more ways than one, this film is about the emperor and no clothes.

The film earned a NC-17 rating, not so much for nudity and sex, I don’t think, but more for the details of film’s subject, which I won’t divulge to you here in detail.  In essence the film is eye candy for the twisted and not necessarily as beautifully filmed as many reviewers claim it to be.  Consistent with the complicated and overloaded narrative — which wanders aimlessly without a real plot — the film is frequently framed in tiresome shots that distract from the story.  Perhaps this is intentional, however; like the sex-addicted protagonist, the film is off balance.

I would have preferred a more classical narrative.  A true tragedy.  Shame does a poor job setting this up.  We don’t really know much about the lead character and his qualities.  We simply know he enjoys porn, prostitutes, and (I won’t tell) to a destructive degree.  The film doesn’t create a hero we should have empathy for when he makes his fall.  Instead Shame presents a pastiche of deviant behavior which comes at the expense of his career…or does it?  Hard to tell.  No one seems to really care, not really, and so neither did I.  You just get a sense that someone is going to cry in the end, but without a proper denouement, that is not going to be me.

There are some positive things about this film.  You might pay attention to your date, for example, and the theater isn’t likely to be crowded.  People might also talk about sex addiction, but for that I have my doubts.

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