Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Classic Scene: Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)

It's bad enough that his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) has turned up unannounced and invaded his private life of solitary and routine, but when Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and his boss David (James Badge Dale) go to a bar to watch Sissy perform a version of 'New York, New York' she also catches David's eye. She joins them at their table following her moving performance and David is infatuated. He asks Brandon's permission if he can see Sissy again. Brandon can only look on is disgust. Disgusted at David's gall for one (he's married) and mortified by his sister. Champagne is ordered and the next shot we see is this one...


David and Sissy are making out in the back of the cab. Brandon cannot bear to look and stares out the window. Arriving back at Brandon's apartment, Sissy and David run on ahead, presumably to his bed to have sex. Not wanting to be in the same vicinity as them, he waits downstairs alone. He is agitated and gets a start when the lift opens. He's desperate for this night to be over and is hoping it is David descending. It isn't. He sits down and rests his head in his hands.


Brandon enters his apartment. He can hear Sissy and David giggling and it is clear it is going to be a while. He is evidently bitter and angry. He walks into the kitchen, clutches his hair in anguish and bangs the cupboards. Sissy's giggles have now become moans of pleasure and Brandon, being a sex addict and a man who needs regular release in some form or other, looks to be very uncomfortable. Worlds are colliding. Two worlds he doesn't want in his apartment.  



 

He stares out of the window for quite a long time before sitting in the corner and staring at the ground.


He stands up, kicks off his shoes and starts to unbutton his shirt. He does it with intensity and purpose. At first we are unsure what he is doing. David and Sissy are clearly audible from Brandon's position. But he is getting changed into sweats.


He leaves his apartment and begins to jog. Note: this entire sequence is a one take tracking shot. Its a beautiful shot. It must have been a very difficult one to coordinate, being in the middle of New York City and all. Brandon runs...



and runs...


And runs. He's trying to relieve his stress and escape the torments that are plaguing his life. I have gone for a late night walk/jog for this exact reason. This is not just about this present situation. His addiction is becoming harder to keep a secret. His work hard drive is found to be corrupted with porn and his sister's presence is proving to be a burden. No matter how much he runs he can't seem to escape. This is conveyed by Brandon having to stop at some lights (below). At the moment it doesn't seem like he will ever out escape his demons.


This entire sequence is unforgettable for several reasons 1) For Michael Fassbender's work conveying Brandon's pain and absolute disgust at what is happening. His sister has invaded his house and now she is having sex with his boss in his bed. She is notoriously unstable and irresponsible and not someone he wants his boss to be mixed up with. Brandon's desire to escape by going for a run is an action I think anybody can relate to. 2) The single take through the streets of New York City. 3) The choice of tune (below). A wonderful scene from a film thoroughly deserving of a 5 STAR grade.

14 comments:

  1. I really like this feature. Using both words and screenshots to illustrate why a particular scene really works is a terrific idea. I like the fact that you highlighted the music, too.

    Great post! One of the things that sticks with me about this movie is the shots of the city. It's a city full of people and life, yet those shots looked empty, hollow, and barren somehow. It spoke volumes.

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    1. I really enjoy this feature, and as soon as I watched the film for the third time I knew I had to highlight this scene. I have the awesome VLC player which allows for great screenshots and the music is so important - and so amazing - I had to include it. Very good observation about the city. It is cold and empty. In Brandon's apartment, his office building and in this scene where he is running, he is almost entirely alone - and that's how he prefers it. Powerful film.

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  2. Great choice, for me that was definetly one of the most memorable scenes in the movie, Fassbender conveyed so many emotions without uttering a single word.

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    1. Yeah absolutely. His performance is phenomenal. His disgust at the situation he finds himself in draws so much sympathy.

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  3. Great insight into an amazing scene that is beautifully shot and says so much with so little. It is the moment that confirms for me that Steve McQueen is the real thing.

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    1. I thought he was the real thing after that lengthy take in HUNGER, but he has backed it up with an even better film here. I...now...LOVE this film.

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  4. I really loved this scene. Those tracking shots and unbroken takes...wow.

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    1. I love long takes and SHAME offers up some of the best I have seen in some time. The best, possibly, is the convo between Brandon and Sissy in front of the TV. OR the one where Brandon comes home to find Sissy in the shower. 'I Want Your Love' blaring in the background.

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  5. I love that tracking shot. This film is sssoooo New York.

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    1. It really is isn't it? Wonderful use of the city. It is a character in itself without being obviously so.

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  6. It's definitely one of my favorite scenes in Shame, and you are right about that tracking shot- Steve McQueen's direction is one of the things that stands out from the movie, and I love directors who can do that through their film! I really need to see Shame again soon, I heard it's already on DVD in UK, so I will have to buy it!

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    ReplyDelete