I saw the last half of the trailer for Steve McQueen’s Shame before some other movie I saw (not Muppets) and my friend and I joked about how of course we are seeing a movie which appeared to be a movie where Michael Fassbender appears fully naked like, 18 times. EASY SELL, AMIRITE?
The truth of Shame is that it is, as my sister put it as we were leaving the theater, “the saddest quasi-porno ever made”. Fassbender isn’t just a love em and leave em lothario, it’s not just like “a peak into the sexual psyche of the modern man” or even “the darkside of someone’s porn habit”–you come to realize that as much as his character seems down to freak it and able to woo any woman with a look or some opportune nasty words, it’s part of an addiction. He’s not fucking because he wants to, he’s fucking b/c he has to. When he’s not able to get his fix, when his sister shows up and disrupts his life with her similar problems, things culminate in a sort of sexual apocalypse–full on fuck the pain away style.
(This is the weirdest Peaches fan-made vid I could find.)
While Fassbender is in the throes of his addiction, even though he is like, non-stop nude and freaking for the final, like 20 minutes of the film, he just looks tortured, not valiant or sexy. The only thing I said to my sister, towards the end, was “God, he looks so dehydrated!”. Mid-orgy, his look is totally pained and he looks like he has coke-and-booze-bender face, you know when someone clearly has not had any nutrients or water in 48 hours. Probably not what the rest of the audience was thinking while watching him rim a prostitute, but his frantic sex is really about his breakdown, not his pleasure, so it’s not hot. Like, at all.
The other storyline here is his sister, Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, who we see as fucked up on the outside. She directs her pain out and wants to be saved, We see her as the fucked up one because she cannot hold it together…. and then we realize that maybe her brother is more fucked up because his motives are all controlled and subverted. And we judge her as the incautious slut, and her brother as just doing what guys do. Except they are both killing themselves.
It is heavy!
If you are in the market for footage of Fassbender looking hot, you are basically limited to the early part of this movie, most of X-MEN and if you are a true freak, the other MCQueen movie where he starves to death and is beaten by cops. SHAME is one of the best films I have seen in a long time, but I really don’t ever want to watch it again.