July 10, 2012

Justify My Netflix: Shame

(Like many Netflix customers, I too can get quite lax with the timely watching and returning of my movies, which of course defeats the entire purpose of having a flat-rate rental plan in the first place. To combat that, I am now writing standardized mini-reviews of each and every movie I end up watching through Netflix, both instantly and on DVD. Don't forget, all previous 'Justify My Netflix' reviews can be found on CCLaP's main movie page.)


Today's movie: Shame, 2011 (Amazon | IMDB | Netflix | Wikipedia)

Why I added it to my queue: Because this supposedly realistic look at the controversial subject of sexual addiction received rave reviews and won tons of awards when first in theaters last fall, including lots of kudos for the brave (and full-frontal nude) lead performance of Michael Fassbender.

The reality: BLURGH. I have to admit, I haven't seen a single decent movie made yet (either Hollywood or indie) on sexual addiction, an extremely complicated concept that a lot of people don't even believe exists, and even among adherents splits into all kinds of competing theories about causes, diagnosis, symptoms and "cures;" but given all the great things I heard about this film when it was first released, plus the fact that Cannes-winning director Steve McQueen apparently based certain aspects of the screenplay on his own real life, I was hoping that this would finally be the first movie to actually get this subject right. But alas, this turned out to be just like all the others, a surface-level potboiler that mostly exists just as an excuse to show attractive starlets having spirited intercourse in front of the glass walls of a million-dollar skyscraper condo; and in its zeal to portray the travails of a good-looking rich young corporate executive, who almost exclusively has sex with the kinds of supermodels who would never give you the time of day, the film completely glosses over the biggest problem of all for sexual addicts -- namely, all the small and unglamorous ways that such people's lives are damaged by having an inability to say no to their desires (the people fired from their jobs for surfing internet pornography, the women beat up by deliberately putting themselves in dangerous situations with violent strangers, the drug addictions that form by trying to make the "high" of sex peak as intensely as possible, the friendships ruined because of inappropriate sexual advances, the children taken away during ugly divorce proceedings, and on and on and on). Shame seems to argue that the biggest problem with sexual addiction is that it'll turn you into a good-looking millionaire who is handed free coke and given blowjobs in the bathrooms of exclusive danceclubs; and that's a real tragedy, given that so many people don't even believe in the idea of sexual addiction, and that cartoonish melodramas like these do nothing but support their opinion. I'll keep waiting for that movie that shows the actual physical, mental and emotional damage that comes from an addiction to intimacy and resulting endorphins; but in the meanwhile, this sure isn't it.

Strangest piece of trivia: Fassbender actually urinated in a scene that shows him urinating, and had to do it three times in a row before they got a good take.

Worth your time? No

Filed by Jason Pettus at 11:52 AM, July 10, 2012. Filed under: Movies | Reviews |