With one of the largest theater chains in the country refusing to carry “Shame” because of its NC-17 rating, I’m not going to bet on the film breaking box-office records this weekend, but I certainly hope it does well.
First, I hope it does well because I’d love to see a serious film with that rating make enough money to justify other studios taking the chance. “Shame” is strong stuff, but it’s not sleazy the way “Showgirls” was, and I think it justifies the notion of an “adult film” that isn’t just an excuse for barely-disguised pornography.
Second, I just plain like the movie, as I said in my original review from the Toronto Film Festival. I’m excited for Steve McQueen and Michael Fassbender to both get a big career boost out of this one. McQueen has proven himself to be a director of note with only two films under his belt so far, and Fassbender is one of this year’s big breakout stars for good reason. When we look back at this year, we’re going to think of two performers who really made a splash, and I think both Fassbender and Jessica Chastain are just getting warmed up.
More than anything, I just want it to do well because I’d like to see anything that isn’t a sequel or a comic book or a cartoon make some money. There’s this mindset that seems to have taken hold in the industry these days that it is a fool’s game to make movies for adults, and I think that’s crazy. Adults are starving for films that are aimed at them, and most of the great conversations I’ve had in the last few months about movies have been driven by films that break the formula that seems to be all Hollywood does right now.
We’ve got an exclusive clip for you from “Shame” today, and while sometimes these tend to be lesser moments or inconsequential glimpses, the one we’ve got for you today is a fairly pivotal moment in the film, and a major turning point for the characters played by Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. She plays Cissy, the younger sister to Fassbender’s character Brandon, and it’s hard to tell who the bigger train crash is. Brandon is able to hold a job and function like a normal person, but he’s a husk of a human, and he’s on a downward slide the entire time. Cissy is a nightmare of a different sort, barely able to pretend to be a regular adult, and the only time she doesn’t seem like she’s in free fall is when she’s singing.
In particular, there’s a moment where she performs “New York, New York” and it’s obvious that what’s going on between her and Brandon subtextually during the song is something that’s been going on between them for a long time. It’s a great moment for her, and for Fassbender, it’s one of the few moments that he lets his mask slip and we see just how deep his pain goes.
It’s a weird weekend considering we’re right in the middle of the holiday season, because there’s next to nothing coming out. Here’s hoping that makes “Shame” the first choice for a number of viewers, and that Fox Searchlight rolls it out wider in the weeks ahead.