Movie News

Capone feels no shame for loving writer-director Steve McQueen's SHAME!!!

Published at: Dec. 2, 2011, 8:41 a.m. CST

Hey everyone. Capone in Chicago here.

The latest work from the clearly dynamic creative partnership between writer-director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender (the two first worked together on the devastating film HUNGER and are slated to make TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE next) is a film best talked about in abstract terms, because if you discuss SHAME in specifics, it comes across as nothing more than a movie loaded with sex and nudity. But SHAME is a story of a man with an illness that is both sexual in nature and spiritual in the debilitating way it eats away at his humanity.

You might imagine it's difficult to feel bad for a man who is not only addicted to sex but is also attractive and appealing enough to act on his addiction pretty much whenever he wants. We literally see him turn on and seduce a woman on the subway just by locking eyes with her. But in just a few short years, Fassbender has proved to the movie-going world that has noticed him that he's an actor capable of adding extraordinary depth to any character he portrays. He draws us into Brandon Sullivan's world using a great deal of silence and maneuvering through the character's neat and orderly life that sometimes involves bringing a woman home to have aggressive sex or just sit in front of the computer and watch internet porn. There is little difference to him between the two. Brandon is a disconnected soul who takes advantage of the anonymity of living in New York City, and in turn the city is his enabler, providing him with outlets for his every joyless sexual whim.

We get glimpses of Brandon's work life as well, including his interaction with Marianne (Nicole Beharie), who seems to genuinely like him and offers a glimpse of an emotional connection that manifests itself in the bedroom by him not being able to perform with her. We also see Brandon interact with his co-worker David (James Badge Dale), the boorish antithesis of Brandon, who is trying so hard to be slick and charming when out on the town with Brandon that women reject him with authority.

Brandon is able to move through his life appearing to anyone observing to be a normal, somewhat introverted man. But when his extrovert sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan, playing well outside her comfort zone with electrifying results) arrives at his doorstep to stay with him, Brandon's internal hell breaks loose and it's very clear her presence isn't just about messing up his stuff; there's a darker past these two share that he'd clearly rather not deal with. What's worse is that when Brandon witnesses his sister throwing herself at men and demeaning herself sexually, he's forced to see someone he cares about get treated like all the women he never cared about.

The interplay between the brother and sister is riveting and endlessly fascinating, especially in a prolonged sequence at a nightclub where Sissy performs as a singer. During her smoldering blues version of "New York, New York," Brandon's façade drops ever so slightly, and he lets her into his heart. But true to McQueen's vision of Brandon, the second the song is over, the walls go back up between the two. As engaging as Fassbender is capable of being, he's at his absolute best here as a detached, icy creature showing only hints of the human being that lies beneath. The screenplay by McQueen and Abi Morgan eventually examines what it takes to tears down Brandon's emotional barriers, but by that point the damage may be done.

SHAME's genuine surprise is in Mulligan's performance. Known for playing quiet, more reserved characters in AN EDUCATION or earlier this year in DRIVE, Mulligan portrays Sissy as a person who lives on the surface—the exact opposite of her brother, who buries everything deep. Watching these two polar opposites dance around each other, but still share the common bond of being damaged, will be one of the purest joys you'll have all year. SHAME has garnered a bit of attention for being released with an NC-17 rating, and with good reason—everyone gets exceedingly naked in this movie. And while sex is usually the reason for all the nudity, there are a few shots of Fassbender just walking naked around his apartment, with the message being that Brandon doesn't assign any sexuality to his nakedness; you get used to it pretty quick.

Without a doubt, SHAME is the most compelling film out there right now and certainly one of the best of the year, featuring Fassbender's finest work to date, including his performance in the upcoming A DANGEROUS METHOD. He's an endless source of fascination for me, as he continues to impress in both mainstream work like INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and as Magneto in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, as well as smaller works like FISH TANK and JANE EYRE. But if he isn't considered a front runner in every award given out in the next couple of months, then people just aren't paying attention. This is a slow week for new releases, so if you're old enough, you should absolutely find out where SHAME is playing near you.

-- Capone
capone@aintitcool.com
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Readers Talkback

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  • Dec. 2, 2011, 8:46 a.m. CST

    FIST!

    by Jay Jay

    See what I did there? But seriously, I'm really looking forward to this.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 8:56 a.m. CST

    Steve McQueen wasn't in Shame

    by rev_skarekroe

    That was Jack Palance.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 8:59 a.m. CST

    lust

    by Jaymie69

    this guy will be huge(parden the pun). prometheus is calling and a little dickie bird says he may be robocop.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:33 a.m. CST

    I wish this fucking guy would adopt a stage name already.

    by The_Guy_Who_Invented_Coca_Cola

    Fuck him if Steve mcqueen actually is a name he chose.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:41 a.m. CST

    Will the typical TBer be able to relate to SHAME?

    by JumpinJehosaphat

    To most of the troglodytes who troll these forums, seeing an emotionally dead person who can't distinguish between porn and real women would simply make him a hero. Hey! He's touching real boobies, after all! I can't see the emotionally stunted man-children of this 4chan wannabe society getting anything out of this film but more spank bank material.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:45 a.m. CST

    They'll be confused about what to jerk off to...

    by The_Guy_Who_Invented_Coca_Cola

    ...the naked girl, or naked Magneto.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:52 a.m. CST

    jumpinjehosaphat

    by Snookeroo

    Most of the guys who troll this forum can fondle boobs anytime they want. They just have to take off their Doritos-stained Green Lantern t-shirt first.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:54 a.m. CST

    Fassbender and Shame

    by Rhuragh

    I can't fucking wait to see Shame today. Fassbender is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. Wait, becoming? He already IS one of my favorite actors. Seriously, just look at his resume _for this year_. Jane Eyre, X-Men First Class, A Dangerous Method, and Shame.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:56 a.m. CST

    the anonymity of living in New York City

    by Eddie_Dane

    opens up a ton of possibilities. i love it.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 10 a.m. CST

    Fassbender as Magneto

    by Flibbertygibbet

    was slightly disappointing for me. I'd heard so many praise his performance that I expected to be blown away. Instead I found him fairly bland, with an accent that was, well...what was it again? I was more taken with McAvoy, and that's not something I was expecting!

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 10:25 a.m. CST

    Yeah, this dude needs to fix his fucking name.

    by Ironhelix

    I don't give a shit if it's his real name or whatever, but it's got to go. For someone in the film industry, if your name is "Steve McQueen", then you goddamned well better be Steve fucking McQueen.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:13 a.m. CST

    Fassbender as Batman

    by Nerd Rage

    Make it happen Warner Brothers.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:23 a.m. CST

    Of Course He Shouldn't Change His Name.

    by Stewart Wolfe

    ....people are being very, very silly. He was born with that name and I'm sure he doesn't really give a flying fuck about having the same name as an actor who died over 30 years ago. And neither do I. Deary me. A fine director who's on the cusp of the big time. Good luck to him.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:24 a.m. CST

    If you want to get noticed in Hollywood

    by Nerd Rage

    No better way than be a guy named Steve McQeen. You probably clicked on this article because of his name.

  • His sister is a slut though.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:34 a.m. CST

    Fassbender is knocking them out of the park...

    by fustfick

    I watched both A DANGEROUS METHOD and SHAME this week. And both performances were quite exceptional. I think A DANGEROUS METHOD is the better film (I'm a Cronenberg fanatic and it also has a few laughs). But, SHAME has certainly stuck with me. There's a dreamy fluidity to the narrative and the performances are pretty raw. The upside is some Carey Mulligan full frontal action. The downside is the re-examination of my own psychology everytime I schlep off to the bathroom at work to rub one out. Or maybe that's the upside, too.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:41 a.m. CST

    Nerd Rage

    by Stewart Wolfe

    Wrong. No I did not. McQueen has been an established artist for a number of years, has won the Turner Arts prize in the UK in 1999 and was an official artist for the Iraq War in 2006. I'm sure after doing something like the latter he doesn't attach any importance to what HIS REAL name is as regards to getting noticed in Hollywoodland.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Remember Michael Bolton from Office Space?

    by Nerd Rage

    I imagine Steve McQueen having the same frustrations.

  • Everyone else...ehhhh.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 12:11 p.m. CST

    Yeah, I don't see the "shame" in having lots of sex.

    by locke815

    Isn't that the point of life? I mean, everything we do is about sex. Everything. The title of the movie should be "success."

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 12:14 p.m. CST

    How are we supposed to empathize with these movies?

    by locke815

    I mean, seriously... a great-looking guy who sleeps with tons of women. And his beautiful sister who sleeps with tons of men. Oh, my heart is breaking!!! The pathos! The humanity! It's not like we're watching some film about the early pilgrims facing a North Dakota blizzard or something, little children freezing to death and losing fingers to frostbite. If these are the "problems" our generation faces, we're doing all right. I mean, for most of the talkbackers here, the biggest hardship in life is that Obama only gave them 99 weeks of white people's money for sitting at home and doing nothing.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 12:33 p.m. CST

    Yet another film bashing men's sexuality...

    by TopHat

    Of course, there is absolutely NO mention of what the women he sleeps with are doing. No, HE'S the bad guy for wanting sex and actually having it with consensual women. There's no in depth analysis of the women having sex with HIM. They're obviously not looking for anything other than a "fuck" as well, but, that's fine for women. Men doing the same thing are EVIL. I believe he even has sex with a MARRIED woman in the film. Yet, there's no wagging the finger at her. HE shouldn't have "seduced" her. It was totally HIS responsibility. And what about the woman he works with who "likes him for who he is"? Well, he's an introverted man who can hardly communicate with people, but, we're honestly supposed to believe she's attracted to him for other reasons than he's attractive? This is just yet another example of the EYES WIDE SHUT syndrome: We have to keep men in check in this society, otherwise, they'll hurt other people (i.e. women) or they'll hurt themselves. Men just can't have sex with anyone they want. They have to pick ONE then serve HER for the rest of their lives. Meanwhile, women can pretty much do whatever they want, specifically with men, because they're fundamentally better people and if they seem to have the same flaws as men that's just our misogynistic society oppressing them. Just consider the title of this movie: "Shame" I doubt that if the male and female roles were switched, where it was a WOMAN going around having detached sex, THAT film would be called the same thing. Because, women shouldn't be ashamed of their sexuality. Only men should.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 12:52 p.m. CST

    He should be listed as Steve Rodney McQueen in the credits!!

    by A_Die_Hard_Fan

    That way people know he's not cool.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 12:56 p.m. CST

    Not even Carey Mulligan frontal nudity saves this shameless, plotless wonder

    by MARCEL_THE_NEGRO_PROJECTIONIST

    In my not so humble opinion, of course. Shame is the textbook definition of a character piece, but not in a good way.

  • You say that like it's a bad thing.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Locke815

    by captaincosmos

    You are a fucking idiot. Had to be said.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:09 p.m. CST

    Capone

    by DirkD13"

    Great review man, but can you say a bit about the visual/technical side of things? McQueen is a genius visual artist and that fascinates me just as much as the story when he is directing.

  • But if you can constantly get pussy, it kind of starts to honestly make you feel hollow. Truth.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST

    tophat

    by REDD

    Well said, sir.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:33 p.m. CST

    I detect a bit of a Luke/Leia vibe in this film

    by Jake Pantlin

    If yeah now what I mean.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:37 p.m. CST

    I don't think this movie bashes men's sexuality

    by Nerd Rage

    The review clearly indicates the main character's sister has alot of meaningless sex and is a troubled person as well.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Wow the guys complaining about this film...

    by Andrew Coleman

    Obviously have sex issues like the one rambling that the lead is a "villain". That's not the case. You actually are suppose to feel for him because he has walled up his emotions so badly. It's a character study not good vs. evil concept. The problem for this movie is that the sex aspect makes people crazy. Most guys who see a man having lots of sex instantly go to jealousy, they don't give a shit why it might be happening. So frankly this movie stands no chance with dudes who have issues with sex. I also have to disagree with the one guy saying guys who lots of sex are evil while no one cares if women do... Bull shit. A woman who has lots of sex is instantly looked at or called a whore. There is not even a term that gets attached to men who have lots of sex. So that's bull shit, women can rarely ever show how much they want sex because they'll be called a "slut".

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 2:48 p.m. CST

    CaptainCosmos

    by locke815

    Must be on week 100 of unemployment. Sorry bud! LOL

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 3:33 p.m. CST

    I've actually been there with the sex thing

    by gooseud

    I'm not going to get into specifics because I made the mistake of doing that once before in a TB, and the basement dwellers instantly flew into a frothing rage......but I've had many an encounter, lets put it that way, and it really does start to become meaningless and pointless after a while. Your doing it to do it out of boredom, but it really does become routine. Granted, so does marriage, so there really is no winning. Plus, when you have fucked so many women that you lost count years ago, you start to realize, 80% of women actually are terrible in bed.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 3:59 p.m. CST

    Less confusing name, like James Coburn or something

    by Crimson Dynamo

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 4:42 p.m. CST

    Oh it is not a porno?

    by KilliK

    fuck it.

  • Kinda proves their lives really are kinda pathetic if they have to resort to that to have an ego-gasm. I'm secure, meaning I don't have to resort to bragging by way of warning anyone off of a "terribly empty life." I mean, if I were really insecure, I'd warn you against having empty sex with a hot, model turned actress in the back of a limo (she's been in a lot of zombie films), but then I'd be boasting, cause I'd really be telling you how much bigger my balls are than yours.

  • Actually, several: "slut", "asshole", "dickbrain", "typical male", etc. No one congratulates men in this society for having lots of sex. That's one of the biggest misconceptions going. The second biggest is the idea that all around this country is groups of men huddled together comparing lists of women they know who have casual sex and labeling them "slut" or "whore". The people who call women those names for having sex, are not men ...they're OTHER WOMEN. But, of course, we can't blame women solely for something, so, men get roped in. We try to be slick about it by saying things like "Society labels women 'whores' just for having a sex life..." When, by "Society" we of course mean "men". If you're a man who has lots of sex you are not given high fives by your "bro's" or put on a pedestal. You're either demonized for being "typical", thought that you have a genuine mental and/or physical disorder, or persuaded that this should be a good time in your life to find God. A man who has lots of sex is lost. A woman who has lots of sex is strong and independent. The movies show this belief more than anything else.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 6:42 p.m. CST

    tophat, you are off your beam.

    by the dolphins are in the jacuzzi

    Sorry, but men and women both call promiscuous females "sluts," "ho's," etc. Have you listened to any rap songs, lately? Women, in the minds of most (male) rappers are all either bitches or ho's, bringing to mind the old joke: "What's the difference between a bitch and a ho? A ho gives it to everybody...a bitch gives it to everybody but YOU." But I suppose a woman made up that joke, right? Just like women secretly ghost write all rap songs. Give me a fucking break. Obviously, you're so desperate to prove your point that men have become the new "low man on the totem pole" in modern western society that you're grasping for straws. True, men don't get congratulated on their sexual conquests anywhere near as much as they did 20 or 30 years ago (for proof that sleeping around was paramount to virility during that period, just watch any teensploitation film of the era - every single, last one revolved around a guy trying to get laid, preferably by as many women as possible, and the coolest guys were always the biggest playboys). While a lot has changed in society, and male promiscuity is more looked down upon now than it was 20-30 years ago, nonetheless, when a guy in a locker room talks about a woman he had sex with, you can bet that, even if the other guys don't "give him high-fives," they'll still look on admiringly. And female promiscuity has always been demonized and likely always will be by BOTH men and women - for proof of that, refer to Chris Rock's assertion that a father's main duty is to keep his daughter off "the [stripper] pole" or any Beavis & Butthead episode where they derisively chuckle at any promiscuous woman as a "slut." Or ask any woman (or any of their unfortunate husbands/boyfriends) who have ever watched Sex & the City, "Which of the four friends is the slut?" They'll all say the same thing: Samantha (yes, I know her name. 12 years of marriage will do that to you). Why? Because she had the most sex. Men and women will both readily agree to that, and they will both likely use the same term when they do. Now, men will still be thinking in the back of their minds, "I'd like to fuck her," the same as with a porn star. But then ask him if he'd marry her. You can bet that, even if he says yes, there'll be a hesitant pause that you could drive a mack truck through. I see what you're trying to say - that you miss the good old days when you could have sex with anyone you wanted without being looked down upon - but to suggest that women have usurped this right is asinine. The truth is that feminism didn't just kill the allure of promiscuity for men; it killed it for everybody. Promiscuous women were always "sluts," but now, so are men.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 6:44 p.m. CST

    Women usually call oversexed men "Tools"

    by MARCEL_THE_NEGRO_PROJECTIONIST

    We just let them think it hurts us.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 7:51 p.m. CST

    I agree with DAITJ

    by Phategod2

    all valid points.

  • Dec. 2, 2011, 9:22 p.m. CST

    myphdisdoom

    by REDD

    Well said, sir. Dammit! Why do I agree with both sides of the argument!?

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 8:39 a.m. CST

    All interesting points...

    by Flibbertygibbet

    but we seem to have moved away from the key issue. SO, Marcel, tell us about Milla.

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 12:18 p.m. CST

    He should change his name to McKing

    by chien_sale

  • Dec. 3, 2011, 1:16 p.m. CST

    Looking For Mr Goodbar...

    by johnmcclanesshoes

    There's a good film.

  • Dec. 4, 2011, 4:09 p.m. CST

    Flibberty

    by MARCEL_THE_NEGRO_PROJECTIONIST

    She's completely insane.