Shame had begun and gone through a process with a rather easy and short combination of a low budget at only £4.2 million, a very short duration during the shooting of the film that lasted up to 25 days and receiving a low box office taking - approximately $9 million. The film earned its well-deserved positive critical acclaim despite it’s overly explicit sexual content that sealed it with an NC-17 rating in the US. Furthermore, considering that there are films which either receive an NC-17 rating or anything mostly consisting of sex can be completely misunderstood for something involving pornography, Steve McQueen brings forth a film with a slight Stanley Kubrick and Bernardo Bertolucci-like style to it that makes it a very gripping and magnificently filmed accomplishment with a very that leaves a very interesting but thought-provoking message.
Considering that the plot and the background passions that Brandon has and can occasionally become a bit awkward whilst watching the film, Shame expresses that mesmerising feeling of pure beauty behind it. It provides a whole new meaning to sex that we hadn’t really thought about before: the act as a whole is quite possibly the most passionate and pleasurable feeling one could ever endure but at the same time, this passion and pleasure could turn into something rather dangerous and become the biggest trap of all! Shame is one of those films that you’d watch where the story almost has absolutely nothing to do, therefore you cannot predict what is going to happen. So, what we have with Shame in that sense is that there are a few unexpected twists and turns around the corner.
Michael Fassbender has already broken through the layers of blockbuster triumphs and collaboration with famous directors after appearing in a vital role in Quentin Tarantino’s war film Inglourious Basterds and then progressed to renovate the role of Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto as a young man in X-Men: First Class. So, now with two different cinematic experiences on his shoulders, Fassbender goes on to portray yet another extraordinary role that hasn’t really been bought forth previously as we embark on his unorthodox adventures following his sexual passions and fantasies. Fassbender provides almost everything that you could ask for as we understand Brandon’s struggles that not only become deeply emotional but also rather horrifying at the same time. His performance is without a doubt one of the most powerful roles of 2011 and it will be very difficult for him to be able to pull off a stronger and more thought-provoking performance in the future than what he gave us here.
Alongside Michael Fassbender is the young and incredibly beautiful Carey Mulligan as Brandon’s sister. Mulligan has been recognised just like Ryan Gosling throughout 2011: delivered absolutely outstanding performances where she has been a strong and favoured Oscar contender for more than one film but has been completely shunned by the Academy. Her role as Sissy was occasionally all sweet and innocent but as we understood her a bit more, there turned this psychologically dangerous girl with a few problems. Another pointer about Mulligan in Shame is there is another whole new side to her that we hadn’t seen before: she is an absolutely fabulous singer! James Badge Dale becomes a huge effective character in his role as Brandon’s sleazy and flirty boss David, so he is yet another reason why Shame works in every aspect so exquisitely.
At approximately 40 years old, Steve McQueen makes only his second feature film throughout his entire career after 2008 biographical-drama Hunger, which also ironically starred Michael Fassbender. Together, they collaborate once more in another eccentric film that has identical filming and screenwriting aspects particularly to Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Bertolucci’s Last Tango In Paris. It is the eerie and rather slow styles of camera angles especially in sexual scenes, unique forms of music and the occasional use of vulgar language. Each of this films as part of different generations provide the fact that film is a form of art in the various key aspects as well as for pure entertainment. McQueen’s next project Twelve Years A Slave in 2013 will become another exciting film to look forward to with Michael Fassbender appearing again.
Overall, Shame is one of those rare films that you’d watch and find both easy and difficult to watch on equal fronts as it expresses the pleasure and dangers of sex with a surreal and eerie approach to it. It is undoubtedly the greatest British film of 2011 and like many other public favourites; it has been snubbed massively by the Academy and Golden Globes! Shame could easily be described as a true dark horse of a film as it’s another great piece of art that becomes something very beautiful but also grippingly intense to watch.