Shame is as difficult a film to talk about as it is to experience. Steve McQueen, who also directed Michael Fassbender in 2008’s Hunger, explores sexual addiction with a keen sense of visual artistry and visceral character work, providing for an unrelentingly powerful insight into what it means to truly loathe one’s self. Michael Fassbender gives a charged performance as Brandon, a man so lost within himself that the prospect of forming a genuine relationship is impossible. Carey Mulligan is effortless as Brandon’s sister, Sissy, who projects an endearing demeanor but is just as afflicted by her and her brother’s shared past. It’s these two actors who imbue the film with a tangible sense of honesty, making the film all the more heartbreaking and, for me, surprisingly relatable. Shame is not an easy film to digest. It envelops you in a shroud of desolation and puts you through a merciless marathon of self-destruction. While others may find it completely reprehensible, it was one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve ever had in a theater.
Nicholas Winding Refn directs Drive with bold and unapologetic assurance, making Drive one of the most hypnotic cinematic experiences of 2011. Ryan Gosling’s sterling performance as an unnamed stuntman and getaway driver is equally hypnotic and unnervingly understated. Carey Mulligan is endearing as a lonely mother whose relationship with Gosling’s character gives the film a refreshing sense of beauty and innocence. What stands out the most is Drive’s stylistic throwback to 1980s films from Los Angeles’ neon glow to the electronic soundtrack. Every aspect of the film is drenched in this bizarre bubblegum sheen, which makes the moments of tension and ultraviolence all the more impactive. Drive might not do much more than most revenge flicks do, but the way it does it is completely unique and absolutely unforgettable.
can barely contain myself…