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Shame - FIlm Review

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by Adam Ray Palmer (subscribe)
A film reviewer, a poem dabbler and an admirer of words. They are funny things aren't they? Words, where would we be without them? On TV probably.
Published October 23rd 2012
It is such a 'Shame' it didn't clear up at the Oscars.

Michael Fassbender puts in a career best performance in this dark and gritty drama set in New York.

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The Headline Poster of the FIlm


Shame' is the compelling story of Brandon Sullivan. Brandon is a young, single man with a plush apartment and a respected job... plus a sex addiction chucked in for good measure. He faces many challenges in his daily life making him a unique human being, thus clearly drawing the women in. Carey Mulligan magnificently supports Fassbender's performance as his younger complicated sister Sissy.

The director/writer, Steve McQueen, is a very talented man. He directs his second feature film here after his Cannes Festival hit 'Hunger' which also starred Michael as the lead role Bobby Sands. So, once this project landed with McQueen at the helm collaborating with Fassbender again, you knew it would be mesmerising with the addition of the young British talent Carey Mulligan in a supporting role. McQueen and Abi Morgan (Co-Writer with Steve) really produce a marvellous script. It is dazzling yet distressing at times; it flips from the highs to the lows in a cut of a scene.

McQueen relied heavily on elongated scenes and strong facial emotions to portray the difficulties Brandon faced in his day-to-day life. The scenes that are lengthened are thrilling as they make you get onto Sullivan's level and to feel the angst he does. Three key scenes where we experience his feelings is when he goes running for miles away from his apartment, when is staring at a female passenger on a train and when Sissy (Mulligan) is singing 'New York, New York' in a bar. The filming and editing is superb, it is truly captivating.

The little details that McQueen puts into this feature makes 'Shame' a masterpiece as they all discreetly stand out. That sounds impossible but without drawing attention to specific detail, McQueen makes them be prominent. I noticed four features Steve added into the misc en scene that give the audience little hints of the narrative or simply just small symbolisations.

Firstly, an office employee quietly says to Brandon as he walks by that his computer has been taken away because he has a virus on it, this depicting Brandon has been on explicit websites causing a malfunction on the hard drive. This is a little 'nod' to his addiction. Staying along these lines, there are a couple of scenes where the camera cuts straight to the door of the male toilets, this symbolising Brandon is pleasuring himself as earlier in the film he regularly takes part in this action at work. My two favourite symbols McQueen inputs into this film is after Fassbender has slept with a woman at his apartment, he will open the curtains in the morning and a huge ray of light shines through, depicting the idea of his 'shame' being cleansed by the light. My other favourite symbol is the continuous classical music being played throughout whether it is on his iPod or the film's soundtrack. This reflects his apparent upper-class life with a respectable job, a luxurious apartment and an expensive nightlife and lifestyle.

The acting is impeccable in this emotional drama, but with such a high quality script to work with, Fassbender and Mulligan were only ever going to be amazing. Fassbender performs at such a high level, I think this film will be his momentous production that he is remembered for. I expect floods of film offers will be coming his way in the near future. Carey's career looks bright too. The pretty, British starlet's performances get stronger and stronger since 'An Education' to 'Drive' and now this work of art. Big things are to come for both.



The Verdict
To sum up, I think this film deserved so much more in the awards season but I could possibly guess why it didn't receive the big 'gongs'. The explicitness of the movie is eyebrow-raising at times with the sexual scenes being jaw-dropping. I also think that Fassbender missing out on an Academy Award nomination is because he is relatively new on the acting scene and the board are known for making stars wait, I am sure Meryl Streep would agree. In addition, the talent showcased in 2011 was phenomenal. Overall, I think McQueen deserves an equal amount of credit along with Michael as his script is just wonderful. The prospect of them working together again in 2013 for 'Twelve Years a Slave' is simply mouth-watering. Although, for me personally, I would love to see Fassbender given the Aston Martin, the suit and a shaken martini for the role of James Bond. He would be majestic.

Star Rating: 5/5
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Why? Michael Fassbender's career best performance
When: Out now
Where: Buy it in stores or online
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