Shame is a film about a really boring suit in New York who has a troubled relationship with his sister (Carey Mulligan). The suit (Michael Fassbender) not only has a really tiresome office job, his leisure time is equally tedious – it is mostly spent looking for nookie (both with and without his vapid boss). The suit often buys sex and it is precisely because he thinks that human relationships can be commoditised that his love life is as dull as ditch water.
Imagine the most lacklustre out-take from a story by a forgotten eighties literary brat-pack also ran and then make whatever you’ve dreamt up about a hundred times worse, and you’ll just about have a handle on Shame. The film is set in the present but its addled reinvention of New York owes more to the way the city was depicted by the likes of Jay McInerney and Tama Janowitz about 25 years ago. And by drawing on outdated clichés, McQueen manages to make Manhattan look way less exciting than Cleethorpes.
The sex scenes are ultra-tame softcore with no come shots, no erect pork swords, and a focus on brief glimpses of female tits and ass. Shame is squarely aimed at middle-brow audiences from middle England and middle America who are easily shocked and incredibly prudish. There are lots of shots of faces and heads (and I mean the type of head primped by a regular hairdresser – not anything sexual) with out-of-focus backgrounds to make the movie look mildly arty. Typical of this over-used trope is a scene where we see the backs of the heads of the brother and sister with an out-of-focus TV playing cartoons to provide visual ‘interest’. Overall the cinematography sucks as badly as a rubber slave with a dirty butt plug jammed down their throat. The soundtrack is really crass as well – with way too much Bach.
Shame is a movie that will appeal to repressed and aesthetically-challenged saddos who consider TV programmes like Strictly Come Dancing sexually charged. If you don’t fit this category then avoid Shame like the plague. I thought McQueen’s first film Hunger was unadulterated middle-brow crap, but Shame manages to be even worse! There’s more excitement to be had from watching flies swarm around a dog turd for ninety minutes than in McQueen’s cinematic slumber parties. But if you like Merchant Ivory Productions, you’ll probably love Steve McQeeen. Me? I prefer watching paint dry!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!
Tags: Bach, butt plug, Carey Mulligan, Cleethorpes, come shot, Hunger, Jay McInerney, literary brat-pack, Manhattan, Michael Fassbender, middle America, middle England, New York, pork sword, rubber slave, sex addiction, shame, Steve McQueen, Strictly Come Dancing, Tama Janowitz, tits and ass