A subtle smile, a charm offensive or an exchange of come to bed eyes is all it takes for sex addict Brandon to subtly reel in his prey, but it’s not the sexual act Director Steve McQueen is interested in with his second feature length film, but the Shame in Brandon’s eyes afterwards.
A subtle smile, a charm
offensive or an exchange of come to bed eyes is all it takes for sex addict
Brandon to subtly reel in his prey, but it’s not the sexual act Director Steve
McQueen is interested in with his second feature length film, but the Shame in
Brandon’s eyes afterwards.
performance as the sexually glutinous but internally isolated sex addict in
denial is probably the best of his career so far and was shockingly overlooked
at this year’s awards season. In fact McQueen’s film deserves much more
recognition than it has currently received.
Brandon is an outwardly successful man in his mid thirties,
he has a decent job, apartment and his colleagues want to be like him.
Underneath his cool exterior Brandon is another person; he sees women like a
porn star director gazes at them through his camera – zooming into sensual body
parts, bare flesh and pursed or licking lips, not a whole human being with a
mind and personality.
first this is how the audience sees Brandon:
at home we see only his torso and tops of his thighs and flashes of his penis
as he repetitively circles his
bland white apartment from bathroom to bedroom to his lap top resting in the
lounge, where he watches pornography while munching on takeaway noodles. He
repeatedly ignores calls from an exuberant sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, who is determined to
get him to answer. What we understand is that Brandon lives a clinical,
cynical, repetitive circular life, incubating himself in a hidden existence: he
goes to work, masturbates in the toilet, watches porn at his desk, goes to a
bar, acts up to his friends and then subtly picks up a women and has meaningless
fortification – over and over again.
McQueen’s character study of Brandon is compelling; women are
objects to him and he fears any emotional exchange with them. He’s acutely
lonely but rejects intimacy. He can’t have sex with one women because she’s
sincere – looks deep into his eyes.
His charade is
shaken when his sister invades his life with her outward emotion and pain. Her
presence tilts him over the edge. In one scene where she gives a heartbreaking
and erotic rendition of New York York we see a solitary tear trickle down his
cheek. Sissy also has a problem with sex with random strangers – but
for her it’s in search of intimacy, she’s emotional, hysterical and needy.
Sex in the film is never gratuitous or sexy but verging on
aggressive and clearly quest-full. McQueen’s subtle yet controlled camera
exposes Brandon’s acute loneliness and inner turmoil even in the thrusts of yet
another random sexual encounter. His lens regularly lingers on the internally
cavernous Brandon submersing us in his world making us like him, then dislike
him, then like him again until we finally just pity him.
lesser director could have made a mockery of an addiction that on the surface
sounds like an excuse to be sexually indulgent and simply promiscuous, but
teamed with the extremely talented Fassbender Shame does an excellent job of
shedding light on a painful and growing addiction.