Adolescent boys have little on their minds except sex. Brandon Sullivan is no longer a teenager, but he has nothing on his mind except sex. Something is quite wrong with the man, and that's the story of "Shame," another Michael Fassbender-Steve McQueen collaboration that opens today and leaves a feeling of dissatisfaction.
Fassbender is a fine actor, and it's easy to see the difference in his portrayals of a man enjoying sex and some of its variations with Keira Knightley in "A Dangerous Method," reviewed above, and his interaction with lots of faceless, nameless, speechless women in "Shame."
As a seducer, he's excellent. He's in a bar with his boss (a very good James Badge Dale) one night, and Dale is in hot pursuit. He's a little too brash, a little too pushy. He breaks the mood and Fassbender is right there to pick up the pieces -- and th egirl. There's another, early on, when Fassbender sees a girl (Lucy Waters) on a subway, traveling through Brooklyn. Lots of interaction by eye, without a word, and we're sure he is scoring agian, but he cannot find her in the station. Maybe it's an accident, maybe she changes her mind, but it's a fine scene.
There are lots of excellent moments along the way, but the subject matter is so depressing that it's difficult to like the movie. Fassbender and McQueen worked together a few years ago in "Hunger," when Fassbender played Irish revolutionist Bobby Sands. McQueen and Abi Morgan co-wrote the screenplay; she, by the way, also wrote the screenplay for "The Iron Lady."
Sullivan's life goes farther awry when his sister comes to visit and talks about an indefinite stay, which causes considerable panic. Carey Mulligan offers a good performance, but his problems keep getting in the way of a good, coherent story.
Shame opens today at several theaters