The Ulcerous Wolf

Shame (2009) could be all done in an hour. It’s artificially long – too long for its action, certainly.

Alright, so Michael Fassbender plays a porn addict who can’t create proper relationships because, for porn ‘addicts’ there’s not enough immediate stimulation in real relationships.

His psyche has an ulcer.

This is how it shakes down in real life:

The ‘addict’ realises he doesn’t find (let’s say ‘women’) attractive. He notices this about himself one day. He knows this is odd because he’s not gay – he likes women. So why is he not noticing them anymore? He’s not looking at them on the street like he used to, or noticing what they’re wearing. Once he realises this, he realises he has an actual psychological problem.

Too much porn conditions the brain to expect immediate pleasure – or pleasure quite quickly. A gentleman wants these periods of manual labour to be over quickly, and doesn’t realise he’s training his brain.

So when the gentleman has the company of a lady, he might find that he suffers from one of three possible ‘issues.’

First – and although business is conducted to the woman’s satisfaction in one way – he can’t satisfactorily conclude proceedings. He might not be bothered by this, but the women will not be happy, and will see this as a failure on her part..

Second, business is conducted okay for a while, then the chap softens his position and allows the woman to rest.

Third, the poor devil doesn’t need to soften his position in the first place.

That Fassbender wants to screw his sister (and not for the first time) is, probably, more the cause of his psychological trouble than his addiction to porn is. The porn doesn’t help, but his sister is the real cause of his trouble.

We first see her in the shower – and this scene is very interesting.

We know that, whoever’s in the apartment, they’re in the shower because we can hear the water running. They also put some music on.

So what follows?

Fassbender grabs a baseball bat, and rushes into the bathroom shouting ‘I’ll fucking kill you!’

This is quite clever.

Who did he think was in there, The Yakuza? The London Irish?

He storms the bathroom because that guarantees him a look at his naked sister, and he pushes his way in carrying the huge hard-on he’s got for her – the bat.

This happens while I Want Your Love by Chic blares on the soundtrack, by the way.

She asks him:

‘Don’t you fucking knock!’

And he replies, with some surface justification:

‘What the fuck, why would I knock? I live here.’

The question acts as plausible deniability. But he’s denying things to himself – not his sister.

This is the point: sure, why would he knock? But that he wouldn’t knock is hardly a reason to come storming in like the SAS. If he was concerned enough to arm himself, and be concerned enough to think he better take the intruder by surprise, he could easily have called the cops, or left the apartment and called them. His action is paradoxical.

He’s trying to convince himself he was in danger through his behaviour, but his unnecessary behaviour reveals he never really thought he was in any danger to begin with.

After a few moments he gives his sister a towel, and she throws it back after a moment, revealing herself to him again and smiling, says:

‘Good to see you.’

This is his sister’s fishing line. Now he’s supposed to say, while staring at her naked body:

‘Good to see you, too.’

But he walks out instead.

They’ve been screwing in the back-story and this has left them both damaged. He’s got a fixation with porn because normal sexual relations don’t give him the thrill he got by screwing his sister, and she’s got scars across her arms from self-harming, and is uber-needy with a car-crash relationship.That’s about it, really. They argue about her being in his apartment. He doesn’t like having her around because he wants to screw her.

And she’d let him.

The Duchess of Malfi

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