BFI London Film Festival – Day 3 – Conquering your sexual hunger in Shame…

15 Oct

Its cold, its 9am and I’m in a queue outside the Vue Cinema in London with a large amount of other keen journalists anxiously waiting to see Steve McQueen’s second offering to the film world and (as jokingly said to me in the stalls) Michael Fassbender having lots of great sex for breakfast with Shame. The cinema was packed, far more than the opening nights film 360 as the lights dimmed ready for the opening scene.

Michael Fassbender sprawled on a bed in the opening shot looks troubled yet calm at the same time, you immediately get the sense that his life and lifestyle is cyclical and although from the outlook is pleasing – his inner secret is far more desperate and destroying. The film is beautifully shot capturing a semi documentary feel – and considering the explicit content contained throughout, it’s handled expertly bar one or two scenes. You get a true sense of addiction from the talented Fassbender, but can’t help think that if they had got an actor who was less pleasing to the eye, you would get even more of a feel for the sense of frustration this character feels. The fact of the matter is however that Brandon (Fassbender) is the New York borderline yuppie, beautifully turned out with an apartment which fits any sort of wall street/high end New York job office type. I’m not sure how many of today’s sexual addicts would have the ability, not once but twice, to make a married woman on the tube instantly start gushing with sexual attraction through just one look – but somehow he manages it – as an audience member, you understand and feel this intensity also by the classical and haunting music throughout, which makes you feel tense in the skin.

This could be a very boring film if we just watched a non stop re-run of Brandon’s life, however the inclusion of his wayward sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is a welcome relief. She provides the catalyst for change, being the typically outrageous sister forcing Brandon to alter his built in habits. It’s an interesting role for Mulligan, clearly wanting to break out of her An Education and Pride and Prejudice persona, she attempts something a little more gritty and bar a couple of accent issues does a pretty good job. She acts as an interesting disruption to Fassbender’s understated, calm, collected shell of a man and forces him to break out in moments which really demonstrate Fassbender’s ability as an actor.

Overall, I was happy that a film I couldn’t wait to see didn’t disappoint, it was only after that I felt deflated. Having looked back at the press conference and meeting Steve McQueen himself, his persona and personal appointment as an ‘art luvvie’ / genius leaves some people reeling at his approach to answering questions. When promoting a film, there is an element of justification needed, particularly when it is approaching a taboo subject. However there is a slight air of dismissal from McQueen – you can see it in his face when he listens to some questions and you almost get the feeling of him thinking ‘this is a stupid question – I’m far to good for this.’ The way I view is it, is that yes he may have won the Turner prize years ago, however he is still relatively new to the film scene with only two feature films made; and the two sectors (in attitude) should be treated in very different ways. If he wants a wide audience to watch this film which covers a niche, hard to watch subject he should speak passionately about the projects and answer the questions the viewing public would want to hear before they make their decision to fill his pocket with profit – a lesson he could learn from his producer Iain Canning and writer Abi Morgan very well. These aren’t the pages of Vogue darling, so please don’t act frosty like fashionista Anna Wintour… in the film world you’re not there yet!

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