As far as addiction dramas can go, Shame may play itself out in a straightforward manner but McQueen never holds back with showing the effects of such upon one’s one life. In this particular case, he focuses on the sex addiction of a New Yorker, whose life functions much like that of any other person you may know, but there is always a present sense of self-destruction here. As a follow-up to McQueen’s often difficult debut film Hunger, what Shame shows is another journey that still remains every bit as emotionally draining an experience – one that reflects a struggle that can only ruin your life all the more. Yet what makes McQueen’s vision ever so fascinating comes right from how he explores what provokes the very worst in these habits before they manifest themselves into something dangerous. If there’s anything else that makes McQueen’s film so beautifully resonant, it doesn’t limit itself only to being about sex addiction, but also about a sense of disconnect that continuously breaks people apart from one another – something that’ll only remain all the more prevalent in the days passing.
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The source material upon which Jeremy Saulnier’s Hold the Dark is based on already seems like the perfect ground for him to cover after Green Room, but coming after said film I’m also rather surprised by how much of a slog this also feels by comparison. But with a small body of work already you can see that he has established a keen eye for capturing violence on the camera, and he still retains that power in Hold the Dark, yet to a less straightforward degree. Being Saulnier’s first film to have been adapted from another source, there’s another constraint that comes on board with telling such a story for the screen but at the same time it’s so unlike Saulnier’s previous films – there’s at least something to admire about what he creates here. But the more it sits in my mind, the more I find that I’m just unsure of what to say about everything that had come prior. It feels so weird to have left a film of this sort feeling inconclusive about what it was supposedly trying to get across, but I still have faith that Jeremy Saulnier can retain such a skill to come back on the top again.
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