Thursday, September 28, 2023


December 2, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Steve McQueen’s Shame will not get you into the holiday spirit. “Critics by and large regard the movie as a difficult go — Michael Fassbender portrays Brandon Sullivan, a sex addict who no longer finds pleasurable — but nonetheless an admirable work of cinema craftsmanship. A handful disagree. A.O. Scott in the New York Times comments that the movie “presents Brandon for our titillation, our disapproval and perhaps our envy, but denies him access to our sympathy. I know, that’s the point, that Mr. McQueen wants to show how the intensity of Brandon’s need shuts him off from real intimacy, but this seems to be a foregone conclusion, the result of an elegant experiment that was rigged from the start.” Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune writes: “There is a good movie to be made about someone like Brandon, especially with someone like Fassbender, a performer of exceptional technical facility and a fascinating sense of reserve. McQueen’s isn’t quite it. It’s scrupulously crafted but almost comically self-serious.” Rex Reed in the New York Observer concludes: “It’s the study of a man whose soul has been peeled away, like coring an apple. But I wouldn’t call it sexy — or entertaining. What does Brandon learn? What do we learn? Director McQueen shares no primal truths, offers no resolutions, and the movie seems pointless.” But these are minority viewpoints. The overwhelming number of reviews are exceptional, with many of them doling out lavish accolades to Fassbender’s performance. “The desperation, hostility and despair he conveys through the act of sex make Shame a film that is difficult to watch but even harder to turn away from,” writes Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. Lou Lumenick in the New York Post comments that the movie provides “a showcase for one of the most exciting actors working in film today. … [It’s] a can’t-take-your-eyes-off-him performance that will surely net Fassbender an Oscar nomination.” And Ann Horniday adds in the Washington Post: “In any other actor’s hands, Brandon would be an impossibly repellent character, but Fassbender infuses him with enough sympathy and vulnerability to make him not just watchable but unforgettable.” Carey Mulligan, who portrays the Fassbender character’s sister, is not omitted from the praise and also looks likely to receive a supporting-actress nomination. Elizabeth Weitzman writes in the New York Daily News that “McQueen and cinematographer Sean Bobbitt create a memorably lonely Manhattan of dimly lit bars, stark offices and anonymous alleys. Fassbender and Mulligan fill these empty spaces with unusually daring and committed performances.”