Sunday, September 4, 2011

Venice Review Round-Up: "Shame"

I have a confession to make: I'm really not a fan of Irish director Steve McQueen's acclaimed debut Hunger. Though parts of it are extremely well-made and compelling, the lopsided nature of the narrative, which centers on IRA member Bobby Sands' famous hunger strike, bothered me in ways that I wasn't expecting. Even so, and perhaps this is a weakness of mine, when I consider the amount of acclaim Hunger received, I feel inclined to give McQueen another chance with his second feature, Shame. Early word, as you'll see below, is getting off to a fantastic start, so maybe this time around I can actually get on board the McQueen bandwagon.

Variety - Justin Chang (N/A): "...more approachable but equally uncompromising drama..." "Even when he says nothing, which is most of the time, Fassbender transfixes."

The Guardian - Xan Brooks (4/5 stars): "Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give dynamite performances..." "This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema; the best kind of adult movie."

IndieWire - Oliver Lyttelton (A-): "...McQueen, like almost no other filmmaker, is confident enough to frame up and let the actors work, and it's the source of the film's most memorable moments..."
InContention - Guy Lodge (3.5/4 stars): "...[McQueen] has a consistently rewarding understanding of the narrative powers of composition..."

Time Out London - Dave Calhoun (4/5 stars): "...McQueen has immersed himself in a wholly different world and made a film that is similarly distinctive and exploratory and grasps you from beginning to end."

The Hollywood Reporter
- Todd McCarthy (N/A): "Driven by a brilliant, ferocious performance by Michael Fassbender, Shame is a real walk on the wild side..." "...may ultimately prove too psychologically pat in confronting its subject's problem, but its dramatic and stylistic prowess provides a cinematic jolt that is bracing to experience."

Venice Verdict: A powerful follow-up to Hunger, Shame shows director Steve McQueen embracing somewhat familiar territory with a bold, striking vision, with strong performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan.

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