Saturday, December 10, 2011

Despite my distaste for Steve McQueen's new movie Shame, there are a a few things I do like about the film—most of which have more to do with McQueen's sense of film technique than the principles according to which he deploys it.

One thing I like—and which, of course, is part of the grand ambiguous design that's also the film's major flaw—is McQueen's conception of "private" spaces, all of which are made to resemble public or transitional ones. The apartment of the Michael Fassbender character is a great example: it looks like a hotel room (when he and the Nicole Beharie character check into a hotel later in the film, the suite they go to bears an uncanny resemblance to his apartment), with bare white walls and only of objects which could conceivably belong to anyone of his class and background (a record player and a prominently-featured paperback of De Lillo's Underworld, for instance). The look of Fassbender's home seems planned to indicate absolutely nothing about his character—other than, perhaps, a desire for anonymity, even in private life.

Contrast with Shame's future double-feature partner, American Psycho, where every apartment is decorated in Reaganite baroque—the private space as an altar to yuppie tastes and aspirations.

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