The collected press on Steve McQueen’s “Shame” thus far has presented the film very much as The Michael Fassbender Show — understandable, given that his superb performance in it represents the creative peak of a breakout year for the actor. Still, I do feel for Carey Mulligan, whose similarly startling work in what is arguably a co-lead role also marks exciting (I’d say career-best) new territory for a rising star, but has been somewhat sidelined in the conversation around the film.
The film’s new UK poster, however, puts that to rights: each actor is given precisely half the available space, selling it very much as a two-hander. It’s an elegant if not terribly inventive design, but I find it interesting in that it’s the first poster for the film to place the emphasis squarely on its stars — previous designs for the marketing challenge of a movie have skewed distinctly more oblique and theme-oriented.
I found the stark US poster, filled with sight of Fassbender’s desolate unmade bed, more inventive and evocative — hinting at the film’s sexual preoccupations without eroticizing it in any way, it’s one of my favorite one-sheets of 2011. (By contrast, the stereotypically racy French poster appears to pitch the film as an arty sex comedy.) UK distributor Momentum went in an almost wilfully obscure direction with an early, limited-edition quad made up of an unadorned reflective surface, seemingly inviting potential viewers to recognize the film’s title in themselves; they’ve obviously pulled back considerably for the second design, but it’ll surely reap greater commercial rewards.
Here’s the UK poster, followed by the tonally-opposed US one. (I could only find a sufficiently large image of the teaser, but give or take credits and quotes, the designs are the same.) Tell us which you prefer.