Saturday, March 03, 2012


Shame / Shame. GB © 2011 New Amsterdam Film Limited / Channel Four Television Corporation / The British Film Institute. P: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman. D: Steve McQueen. SC: Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan. DP: Sean Bobbitt. PD: Judy Becker. AD: Charles Kulsziski. Set dec: Heather Loeffler. Cost: David C. Robinson. Makeup: Ma Kalaadevi Ananda. Hair: Erin Hicks. Special makeup: Craig Lindberg. M: Harry Escott. J.S. Bach keyboard works played by Glenn Gould. "New York, New York" (John Kander, Fred Ebb) perf. Carey Mulligan. "Genius Of Love" by Tom Tom Club. "Rapture" by Blondie. S: Glenn Freemantle. ED: Joe Walker. Loc: New York City. Casting: Avy Kaufman. C: Michael Fassbender (Brandon Sullivan), Carey Mulligan (Sissy Sullivan, the little sister), Nicole Beharie (Marianne, the black coworker), James Badge Dale (David, the boss), Hannah Ware (Samantha), Lucy Walters (the woman on the subway train). 101 min. Released by Cinema Mondo with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Janne Mökkönen / Joanna Erkkilä. 2K DCP viewed at Kinopalatsi 7, Helsinki, 3 March 2012.

Technical specs from IMDb: Camera: Arricam LT, Cooke S4 Lenses - Laboratory: DeLuxe - Film negative format: 35 mm (2-perf) - Cinematographic process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Techniscope (source format) - Printed film format: 35 mm (anamorphic), D-Cinema - Aspect ratio: 2.35:1.

Set in today's New York City.

One of last year's most acclaimed films, a story of Brandon, a successful Manhattan professional, a handsome single man with a sex addiction. He has sex with a different woman every day, he has no long term relationships, he picks up women everywhere, he hires prostitutes and hostesses, his computers at home and at the office are full with pornography and dangerous viruses, and he masturbates compulsively. Because his sex obsession has become a source of trouble at work and in his private life and because sex for Brandon is not a source of happiness but unhappiness he meets the ICD / DSM criteria of disease classification. He should consult a doctor and seek help from rehabilitation at once.

But Shame is not a case history but a story of alienation. It is a story of a life where there is a lot of success and an unending supply of sex but no happiness and fulfillment. There is endless sex, but love is missing. Joy of life is missing.

The visit of the little sister Carey Mulligan (in a structurally similar role as in Drive) wakes Brandon up from his addiction routine. The most significant encounter is with Marianne, a truly warm and charming woman. Because Brandon cares too much for her he cannot have sex with her. Brandon has gone so far that he can only have sex with a woman he can objectify and forget. Sex and love are not just separate, they are incompatible.

In this contemporary story the dance music is from 30 years ago, and Brandon listens to vinyl albums of Glenn Gould playing Bach.

Shame is a naturalistic film with full frontal nudity and no erotic warmth. It seems de rigueur in art films that sex needs to be made unsexy.

Shame has been shot on 35 mm film but in the 2K digital intermediate the colour has been given a cold, gray digital look. Even in the only scene with presumably warm colours dominating (Brandon having sex with two women) the orange colour looks bleak.

1 comment:

Olli Sulopuisto said...

I'd like to take issue with the claim (be it true or not): "It seems de rigueur in art films that sex needs to be made unsexy."

For as you yourself point out earlier, "There is endless sex, but love is missing." Ie. in this film the unsexy sex is in line with the theme.