Shame (Blu-ray) (2011)
|Year Of Production||2011|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Steve McQueen|
James Badge Dale
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (2304Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Sitting down to write this review I was immediately struck by how difficult it would have been to pitch this film to a producer - a film about sex addiction would seem a more likely premise for a comedy, and yet Shame takes a far more difficult route, creating an intense portrayal of a man spiralling into self-destruction through his inability to control his sexual desires.
Anybody looking to Shame for some cheap thrills and nudity is advised to look elsewhere. Yes, the film is shot full of graphic scenes of sexual conduct and full-frontal nudity, but in the film’s context these scenes are about as arousing as watching a medical post-mortem – that is, clinical and dehumanising.
Shame tells the story of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a thirty-something professional living in New York and trapped inside a cycle of one-night stands and meaningless sexual encounters. His life is one of creating an outwards impression of control in an attempt to mask his inner feelings of lack of control. Brandon’s life is thrown into disarray when he comes home one night to find his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) in his apartment looking for somewhere to stay. Whereas Brandon’s external life is a demonstration of control, Sissy does not hide the fact she is out of control. She is loud, flamboyant, and working from one singing gig to the next. As Sissy’s apparent intrusion on Brandon’s life increases, his control slowly slips away as he seeks more and more high-risk sexual encounters.
Shame is certainly not an easy film to watch. But it is an undeniably powerful film full of excellent acting and strong direction by writer/director Steve McQueen. Had the actors not thrown it all into these roles, the film could easily have slipped into self-parody or didactic melodrama. But Fassbender and Mulligan are so convincing in their roles that you cannot help but be drawn into their world. When the final credits start rolling you are left with a sense of emotional numbness similar to Brandon’s own as he contemplates which way he is going to go – continue the spiral down, or take actions to change his life.
Filmed on 35mm film, Shame has been transferred to Blu-Ray in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio at a resolution of 1080p in MPEG-4 AVC encode.
The film has an intentional high contrast look to it, which is clearly a stylistic choice by the director. This makes scenes in daylight much whiter than normal and dark scenes full of inky blacks with bright contrasting highlights.
The transfer has a fine coating of film grain across it and no evident attempt to smooth this out with digital tampering during the transfer process.
Colour is vivid, although the high-contrast style often tends to rob colours of intensity. Light blues veer towards white, and reds wash to a paler maroon. Again, this is clearly a stylistic choice and fits well with the subject matter.
Shadow detail is excellent, which is important as much of the film is set at night in shadowy bars and clubs or on New York’s streets at night.
I noticed no film artefacts or film-to-video transfer artefacts of any description.
There are no subtitles on this Blu-Ray.
Audio is presented in the theatrical 5.1 mix encoded as a DTS-HD Master Audio track at 48kHz.
The film is entirely dialogue driven, and so the centre channel gets nearly all of the work here. But the surrounds are used with music and atmospherics.
Dialogue is clear and sharp with no sync issues that I noticed, nor any intelligibility issues.
The subwoofer is used very sparingly, and only generally employed in scenes where music is in the background.
|Surround Channel Use|
The start-up menu is presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced with a 2.0 LPCM soundtrack.
The Blu-Ray comes in a Double-Play pack with a DVD version of the film.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The US version is a region-coded 20th Century Fox release and also includes:
The US release is clearly the winner.
Shame is a difficult film to watch, but also a rewarding one. It treats its subject matter and the audience with intelligence and respect and features some outstanding acting from two of Hollywood’s current standouts. This Blu-Ray release is highly recommended for those who like challenging films, although the lack of subtitles or extras is disappointing.
|DVD||PlayStation 3 160GB with HDMI 1.4a, using HDMI output|
|Display||Samsung 64" Plasma PN64E8000 (this device is 3D capable). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Marantz SR6006 Receiver, Rotel RB-1552 and Rotel RMB-1565|
|Speakers||Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 fronts, wide-fronts, and rears, Wharfedale Diamond 10.CM centre, Velodyne MicroVee Subwoofer|