Mistress America vs. Shame
But that experience was starkly different and much more enjoyable then the one I had on Sunday, when we rented Shame. Michael Fassbender was on the cover of this past weekend's NYT Style magazine and so I read an article about how he got his start in films directed by Steve McQueen (not the 1960's actor), including Shame, made in 2011. I remember hearing about this movie, and rumblings about the nudity (i.e. his penis), but I didn't see it when it came out because I usually prefer Woody Allen films were Freudian references are made to genitalia, but you never see them in action.
The movie has a couple of very drawn out scenes, such as the sister singing the entirety of "New York, New York" in slow, pained notes and another of him jogging though Manhattan and then this other scene where he's with two prostitutes and it looks as though he's descended into one of Dante's circles of hell. It's all about habit and not being able to escape this need for his next fix, so that's disturbing and you see that he will always be alone because when he does try to sleep with someone he likes, he can't get it up. I kept thinking, Get a therapist! Talk to someone! But alas, he didn't seem capable of asking for help, even though he was clearly suffering and hating every second of his behavior. Then, something horrible and dramatic happens and he may be changed by it; it may be bad enough to break through the self-abuse, but at the end of the movie, we go back to the beginning, with him sitting on the subway, checking out this same married woman he chased after at the start, and he stares at her and clenches his jaw and we're left to wonder... Can he resist? Will he follow her and begin again? If the movie is truly about addiction, the answer is yes. Yes, of course. You don't necessarily wake up one day and find yourself able to put an end to your worst behavior. Then again, maybe this touching moment in the hospital with his sister is enough for him to stop. Maybe his clenched jaw is a sign of resistance and not one of agonized sameness.
Whatever the case, watching that movie totally obliterated any of the pleasure of Mistress America.