In my 9.5 Telluride Film Festival review of Steve McQueen‘s Shame (which will have its NY Film Festival screening on Thursday morning) I called it “a prolonged analysis piece that’s entirely about a malignancy — sex addiction — affecting the main character, and nothing about any chance at transcendence or way into light of any kind. The sex scenes are grim and draining and even punishing in a presumably intentional way. [And] this is what an art film does — it just stands its ground and refuses to do anything you might want it to do.”
I felt all alone for a while with many if not most of the other critics who’d written about Shame from Telluride or Venice offering a fair amount of praise. And then came a brief critique two days ago from N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis‘s in which she called Shame “another example of British miserablism, if one that’s been transposed to New York and registers as a reconsideration of the late 1970s American cinema of sexual desperation (Looking for Mr. Goodbar, Hardcore, Cruising, etc.).” After this I didn’t feel so bad.
I suppose it’s fair to call Paddy Considine‘s Tyrannosaur (Strand, 11.18) another serving of miserable Limey lifestyles, given the general grimness of the story, particuarly as it affects Olivia Colman‘s character. But when all is said and done, Tyrannosaur has heart and humanity. It’s a much warmer and chummier film than ice-cold Shame, at least in the third act. So there’s that at least.