“Sex without connection is bad for you” is not exactly an original theme, or something the liberal media (or me and my friends) want to readily embrace.
But Steve McQueen‘s new film, Shame — which I saw at the New York Film Festival — is at least a provocative look at the alleged emptiness of promiscuity.
The sculpted-faced Michael Fassbender is riveting as Brandon, the thirtysomething urban professional who can’t get enough T&A, though he’s often seen showering off the, you know, shame, before moving on to his next angsty conquest.
(And by the way, his orgasms look more pained than ecstatic, to underline his unhappy addiction even further.)
Carey Mulligan is sensational as Brandon’s sister, who intrudes on his hollow life by crashing his apartment and demanding to be noticed and conversed with.
(She also has an interesting scene singing “New York, New York” at a cabaret, doing it as a slow, torchy ballad filled with real longing as the camera zeroes in on her neediness. She’d make a great Sally Bowles.)
And Nicole Beharie is extraordinary as a work colleague of Brandon’s, whom he gets to know a bit and therefore loses his sexual interest in, preferring to go for quick bangs with anonymous objects.
The whole “Isn’t he sad?” approach becomes heavy-handed, but it’s still solid, original filmmaking — though I could have done without Brandon reaching his bottom, as it were, when he enters a gay sex club and lets a guy blow him.
Why is this always considered the low, even for a sex hound?
Anyway, don’t be ashamed to see Shame. It’s one of the year’s more memorable films.