YOUR FEATURE PRESENTATION
This time of year I am inundated with awards screeners. Studios send them out to awards voters hoping their films will be considered "Best". The disc for SHAME, a haunting NYC-set sexual addiction drama which opened yesterday in select theaters came in a minimalist pure white sleeve with only the title and a barely visible "for your consideration" adorning it. It's as naked as Michael Fassbender's star turn. Though I'd seen the film just two months ago, I popped it in the player hoping to let its riveting images and mesmerizing rhythms wash over me as I wrote a review. Instead the screen stayed black. The depressing message "Skipping Over Damaged Area" was all my DVD player would show me.
If one were to skip past the damaged, in a figurative sense, one would have to skip the entire film. Brandon (Fassbender) is a compulsive sex addict who lives in a pristine, virtually empty apartment and works in an equally characterless office. It's a smart bit of art direction as there's room for nothing in his life but sex. His answering machine, which we hear on loop in a ritualistic opening sequence, is filled with come-ons. His bed is only empty if he's out looking for someone to put in it. His computer is overflowing with porn ("your hard drive is filthy" his friend and boss remarks with amusement and whiff of judgmental incredulity). Just as we've become acquainted with Brandon's obsessive routines they're thrown off their usual course by a visit from his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan). Her brother may come across like a numb sex zombie, but she's a livewire, a needy open wound.
MORE, including the first cries of "Best!" for Awards Season, AFTER THE JUMP...
Sissy: I'm trying to help you?
Brandon: How are you helping me? You come in here and you're a weight on me.