#11 (third series) Shame (The Athena)

Brandon (Michael Fassbender,) a horny executive at a vague media firm acts mean to his visiting sister, conveniently name Sissy (Carey Mulligan,) until she tries to kill herself for at least second time in her life. The audience knows she must be an attempted suicide girl becuase Brandon’s boss (James Badge Dale) notices the scars on her wrist early on in the film, telegraphing the tragic ending. Everything proceeds as if Dr Dru had consulted with The Iron Lady’s Abi Morgan on the script: Michael can only  inhabit his sex drive as an addiction, we have to endure awkward scenes of Brandon failing at a normative sexual relationship complete with sincere affects, a fleeting reference to being from a bad place turns the principals into victims, and therapeutic incest doesn’t seem to be an option. McQueen tones down his references to gallery photography somewhat, but retains his pointless diagnostic closeups which he stupidly likes to use to heighten identification by cutting from one emotional state to a more intense version of the same. This counter-Eisensteinian technique is even more annoying than the Actor’s Studio™’s instance on fluid transitions in onscreen-space. The close ups batter the audience over the head in the amaturishly parallel scenes of Lucy Walters, from small parts in Gossip Girl and Army Wives, overacting on the subway. The low point of stylistic banality comes at Sissy’s singing gig, which one would like to say is a version of similar scenes in New Rose Hotel  or La vie nouvelle, except it’s just a sincere-ified version of Isabella Rossellini’s song from Blue Velvet. The sexual politics are odious. Brandon’s “bad place” takes the edge off his palpable misogyny in a way that American Psycho would never stoop to; he has to get beaten up outside a bar and be denied entry into a hetero club before he can let himself get his cock sucked by a man; no woman in the narrativegets anything like real sexual agency; McQueen displays the sex Brandon is so ashamed of in the most ordinarily titillating way; and the tired city of New York gets whored out yet again with out a trace of urbanist analysis. I’m sure this would be a more interesting review if, as Joshua Clover does so well, I posited Shame as a film about the financial crisis, but I don’t want to write interestingly about Shame, so I’ll just note that it makes The Girl Friend Experience seem like a staggering achievement.

One response to “#11 (third series) Shame (The Athena)

  1. I didn’t see the film itself until last June, although the thinking here helped me a lot last Sping/Summer around the failures of seeing all cultural production as an allegory of its moment *strictly.*

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