Monday, 16 January 2012


One weekend, two films. Very different. The Artist, silent, elegant, eternal, black and white, detailed, romantic, where, every aspect, look, pout, movement, breath was studied. A fairy tale where the dog saves the day, the man saves the woman and the woman saves him right back (I kept thinking of the last scene in the film Pretty Woman at that point - a film that glamorises meaningless sex - probably not the intention of the producer) the Artist is not of our time or any time really. Just wonderful to watch.

And to a film about meaningless sex that doesnt glamorise it. I found the film Shame disturbing, I think i was meant to. I imagine couples leaving the cinema refusing to discuss it or talking about it for days afterwards. Some scenes were incredibly disturbing because they are relevant. The Internet has taken sex addiction into the sitting room not only of those like the isolated protagonist of the film who is financially and physically fit but emotionally fucked. But to the millions who are addicted to Internet porn and chat lines while their children watch CBBC in the room next door.

Shame was about debilitating lack of self esteem, misplaced values and total lack of understanding of worth, and increasing inability to delay gratification. Shame also showed to powerful effect the inability to differentiate between love and lust. The protagonist at one point holds his sister aggressively, eyeballing her, sneering at her 'what do you offer me? What do you give to me? You're a liability as though she owes him something.". That upset me. I know too many people like that. He compares his worth and achievements with the fact he has a day job and an apartment but he's so much more damaged than she is. His boss is the most insidious revolting character in the film. Judging the behaviour of others while without guile or shame betraying his wife and children continually all the while coming across as the loveable jack the lad. The film portrayed the man's need for constant gratification as addiction. Just as gambling is. Just as alcoholism is. My research has shown the jury is still out on that one amongst sex therapists. Cosmopolitan would have us believe that men are t the mercy of their libido in much the same way the Bible and all religions for that matter always seems to think it's the woman's fault that men are as addicted to sex as they are. But then it was written by men.

And as my next book circumvents the subject matter a little, I found myself looking away from the screen at certain scenes and looking at the faces of those watching to see if they were numb to what they saw. They were. The screen was full of deeply damaged characters who were reflecting themselves back at us, with a few exceptions, like a mirror. Not all the characters on the screen were damaged as I am sure not all the characters in the cinema were either, but I learnt as much watching the watchers as I did the screen. You need to be in the right mood to see this film. I'm just not sure what mood that is. And the film is called Shame. But at no point does anyone show any degree of shame. Perhaps that's the most disturbing point of all.

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