Shame on Steve McQueen.
No, not that one. The writer/director that, along with actor Michael Fassbender, gave us the powerful Hungry a few years back.
He grabbed one of the best young actresses in the business – Carey Mulligan (An Education) – and he used late pianist Glenn Gould’s Bach pieces to score the film. McQueen didn’t bring a script to the table, though.
Instead, he figured he’d get an NC-17 rating, and so we’re shown lots of gratuitous sex scenes so the rating would be justified.
Now, I’m a big supporter of NC-17 films. I hate the fact that there isn’t a rating for films that only adults are allowed to see, since porn has stolen the X. Yet when NC-17 films come out, many theatres refuse to carry them because of the boycotts and complaints. Yet when something like this comes out, it will give credence to those complaints.
There was a time when X rated movies were films like Midnight Cowboy (which won an Oscar for Best Picture). And for that reason, lazy film critics are comparing this movie to Midnight Cowboy. It’s nothing like it. It’s more like Carnal Knowledge from a few years later, where Jack Nicholson plays a womanizer. Now, Fassbender plays a guy that’s a sex addict, but an argument could be made that Nicholson was one also. And certainly the way Jack treated women in Carnal Knowledge was very similar to this current character.
I thought the cinematography in this film was good, and they touched upon some interesting topics. We see Mulligan do a nice rendition of New York, New York. We get high rises at night, sex clubs, and trendy bars – perfect set-up for a sex addict to ply his trade.
We see him creepily stare at women on subways and saying inappropriate things to women in bars. Yet, most of these become blown opportunities; even an interesting date with a co-worker he develops a rapport with, goes wrong.
I wanted a little more of those scenes. I wanted to leave the theatre wanting to discuss this movie. He went to a gay bar, yet I don’t think he’s gay. Some would argue that, and this is the type of film that could’ve inspired interesting topic and debate among the viewer, instead of putting them to sleep.
So much of this dialogue is non-existent and when there is something there, it goes nowhere.
I don’t need answers to the questions they pose – what was his childhood like with his sister, or will there be redemption or consequences for some of his actions (like the computer at work filled with pornography).
I sometimes hear directors talk about how they let actors ad-lib the script, and I felt that’s what they did in this.
Fessbender is a fun actor to watch. He made me like X-Men: First Class more than I thought I would. I’m just not sure why I need to see him walking around his apartment naked, peeing, or jogging around the streets at night.
This is a character study that is a bit unfocused.
And when I dislike a movie and am bored, that’s when my mind starts thinking about all the other flaws. One being how his sister got into his apartment, or why she wouldn’t leave a message on his cell phone telling him she’s there.
The whole idea that the sister yearns for a connection with her brother, and he wants nothing to do with her (or anybody, really)…is a fine premise. They just needed to do more with it.
Another part of my problem with the movie was that I didn’t buy certain aspects of it. This guy is obviously smart, yet when he has an incident with a woman in a hotel, I think he’d be better prepared. I’d also think for a man that spends as much time in the bathroom as he does, he’d be good about locking doors. And does he really think porn on his computer wouldn’t be discovered at some point?
The last movie I saw about a sex addict (Choke), didn’t seem gratuitous with the sex scenes. Neither did movies like Eyes Wide Shut, American Psycho, or the upcoming version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. All the sex scenes these movies had were either sexy or scary – sometimes both.
This movie is stylish, art house porn, trying to pass itself off as a deep filmmaking.
My favorite thing was watching the credits to see what the characters were listed as. There was Late Night Lover #1, muscular boyfriend, hotel lover, late night lover #2, Skype son, cocktail waitress, pretty subway girl, etc.
Perhaps this all stems from being in high school and finding out a classmate was in a film, and being excited to see his name in the credits. Sure, he was the very last one listed, and it was a Jim Belushi film, but a thrill nonetheless.
This squeaks out 1 ½ stars out of 5, simple because it had two decent performances from the leads, a few interesting scenes, and nice cinematography.