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March 07, 2012 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 7A

Twice the drama in'Awake'

"You're telling me it's how big?"
Addicted e'

Director McQueen
explores the pain of
sex addiction
By ADITI MISHRA
Daily Arts Writer
Sex addiction. Is there even
such a thing? As minute after
minute of "Shame" passes by
and director
Steve McQueen
("Hunger") fills
in yet another $hae
empty spot
on his canvas At the State
with a somber
depiction of Fox Searchlight
unrestrained
sexual craving, there's no denying
its existence. Make no mistake -
McQueen's finished work is not
an image of hypersexuality, but
of the obsession, guilt and vulner-
ability that accompany any kind
of addiction. And as such, it's an
invaluable work of art.
"Shame" opens with a series
of scenes depicting Brandon's
(Michael Fassbender, "Jane
Eyre") morning routine, wherein
his first task is to see off the new,
strange girl he woke up next to.
Then, Brandon takes the subway
to work. On one particular morn-
ing, he catches the attention of an
attractive woman sitting opposite
him. His brooding, sultry gaze
soon renders her paralyzed; they
.* may be in a subway, but watching

them is like barging in on a pro-
foundly intimate moment. Her
hand, complete with a wedding
ring, shifts uncomfortably across
her thighs as she begins to realize
what's happening. As the subway
door opens, she rushes out with
the shocked revelation that in
those few passionate moments,
she may very well have cheated on
her husband.
That scene may take less than
two minutes to unfold, but it
speaks volumes about the char-
acter. For one, it showcases Fass-
bender's pure and unreserved
reservoir of talent - without a
single word, he manages to dis-
close Brandon's biggest weakness
in a scene that defines the rest of
the movie. But most importantly,
it epitomizes his erratic carnal
cravings that manifest themselves
regardless of time and place.
It's not until Brandon's train
wreck of a sister shows up on his
doorstep that we're able to see
exactly how dysfunctional his
family is. Sissy (Carey Mulligan,
"Drive") is an aspiring singer who
decides to crash at her brother's
house while she finds a stable job.
Stability, however, is not her vir-
tue. Plagued by a history of abu-
sive relationships, Sissy testifies
to everything that's wrong with
Brandon. His lack of support for
Sissy after an undefined family
trauma led her to become sporad-
ic and helpless. Her appearance
revives his guilt, which in turn
fuels his anger, which he then

unleashes on her, making their
relationship a painful, inescap-
able whirlpool.
Sissy's arrival also brings to
the forefront Brandon's frustra-
tion with who he is and what he
is - ashamed. Ashamed of the
way he brought Sissy up, ashamed
of not being able to have an inti-
mate relationship, ashamed of his
vulnerability to addiction and his
inability to pull himself out.
Usually in movies, it's painful
to see the actors walk away with
all the credit. But here, no one can
deny Mulligan and Fassbender
their due acclaim. Their formida-
ble performances allow McQueen
to render everything in the film
less significant than the charac-
ters' raw emotions. Forget Man-
hattan, forget the Boom Boom
Room, forget the subway, the only
faces you'll remember are those of
the lead actors.
But like every other work of
art, this film's beauty is in the
eye of the beholder. Where some
may find themselves annoyed by
the helplessness and incongru-
ity of Brandon and Sissy, others
may come away touched by the
honesty of McQueen's agenda. In
truth, his is an agenda unspoiled
by the Hollywood bug of opti-
mism. "Shame" isn't atale of how
to overcome addiction, it's a tale
of what renders a man so helpless
that he gives up hope of some-
thingbetter. And while imperfect,
it's a moving, masterful cinematic
achievement.

By RADHIKA MENON
For the Daily
If you were alternating
between two realities - one in
which your spouse is dead but
your child is
alive, and the
other the exact
opposite - Awake
which one do
you choose to Pilot
believe is real? Thursdays
This is the cen- at10p.m.
tral question
in NBC's new NBC
series "Awake,"
which finally hit television last
Thursday after being available
on Hulu for two weeks.
The pilot opens with a literal
bang: a tragic car crash involv-
ing detective Michael Britten
(Jason Isaacs, "Harry Potter and
the Deathly Hallows: Part 2"),
his wife Hannah (Laura Allen,
"Terriers") and their son Rex
(Dylan Minnette, "Lost"). Dur-
ing Michael's waking hours, he
is confronted by two alternate
realities: one in which he and his
wife Hannah attempt to rebuild
their lives after the loss of their
son, and the other in which he
attempts to reconnect with Rex
after losingthe woman they both
loved. While simultaneously
solving separate police cases in
each reality, Britten consciously
tries to decipher which world is
true, but finds eerie, overlapping
details connecting both realms.
Visually, the series is con-
ducted in two shades: Warmer
tones depict the reality in which
Hannah is alive, while cooler
tones depict the world in which
Rex is alive. Michael wears a red
rubber band in his wife's real-
ity and a green one in his son's.
Colors play a large role in helping
Michael - as well as the audi-
ence - keep track of which world
he is immersed in. The shading
scheme is beneficial in separat-
ing the two worlds, allowing the
audience to more easily follow
the complicated environment of
"Awake."
The two realities are remark-
ably different, from the peo-
ple within them to the police
cases Michael undertakes. Yet
he begins to find intersect-
ing threads between the two,

includi
colors
relevan
how re
investi
feature
plex, b
pull itc
If n
both w
Isaac's
real an
ing gri
loved
for ne
worlds
the var
trum, c
ing hu
happin
Si
S]
Vie
We
Rex an
look in
nah is,
who fit
their le
is a br.
recent]
to feel,
The
are al

"I should have never given him that sock."

NBC

ng overlapping numbers, meet Michael's squad partners
and faces. Clues that are and his two therapists in their
it in one reality some- respective existences and see a
surface as integral to the good measure of their person-
gation in the other. This alities. Detective Isaiah "Bird"
of storytelling is com- Freeman (Steve Harris, "Fri-
ut "Awake" manages to day Night Lights") is Michael's
off deftly. long-time partner, present in his
othing else, "Awake" is wife's reality, who senses that
ell-casted and well-acted. something is off with Michael,
performance as Britten is while Detective Efrem Vega
d heartbreaking, illustrat- (Wilder Valderrama, "That '70s
of and sadness for his lost Show"), present in his son's
ones as well as optimism world, is a rookie cop assigned
w beginnings. In both to Michael after the accident.
, he effortlessly portrays His two therapists (BD Wong,
ious emotions on the spec- "Law & Order: Special Victims
onvincing us of his linger- Unit"; Cherry Jones, "24") also
rt as well as his fleeting occupy different roles, with one
ess. being firm and persistent and
the other being laid-back and
relaxed. Though these charac-
terizations are only one-dimen-
sional and surface-level, there is
storylines need for stagnant figures in this
complicated premise.
hould keep "Awake" hints at operating on
a case-of-the-week basis instead
vers awake. of a season-long arc, which
could potentially hinder points
of in-depth development. Argu-
ably, the show would be better
also meet Hannah and served if a single case in both
d get a multi-dimensional worlds were worked at week by
ito their existences. Han- week, as it would allow for more
an excellent tennis player interconnectedness and cross-
nds it too painful to enter over between the two universes.
ate son's room, while Rex But it's easy to forgive the very
boding teenager who has few mistakes "Awake" makes
ly taken up tennis as a way because the concept is so imagi-
closer to his dead mother. native and new. Though it is com-
secondary characters plex, it promises to be one of the
so well developed. We best new shows of 2012.

I I

Decadence and decay
in 'Grey Gardens'

TANNER LECTURE ON HUMAN VALUES 2011-12
The public and
private morality of
climate change

Prof. Sohn Broome
White's Professor of Moral Philosophy,
Fellow of Corpus Christi College;
University of Oxford
THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2012.*4 PM
BALLROOM OF THE MICHIGAN LEAGUE

By LAURA KAYE
DailyArts Writer
The story of "Grey Gardens"
takes acue from Blanche DuBois,
who puts on airs of high society
and devolves
into madness. Grey Gardens
More specifi-
cally, the play Tomorrow
presents a sur- through Satur-
prising story day at 8 p.m.
involving two and Sunday
real women. at 2 p.m.
The Ann Arthur Miller
Arbor Civic Thtet
Theatre wel- Theaten
comes to the From $12
stage the play
"Grey Gardens." The play was
adopted from the 1975 documen-
tary film by the Maysles broth-
ers, a cult classic that inspired
the Tony award-winning Broad-
way production. Since the play
has become a hit, Edmond Reyn-
olds, the director of the Civic
Theatre production, believes the
time is right for it to hit the Ann
Arbor stage.
The play depicts the lives of
a mother and daughter, Edith
and Little Edie, as they transi-
tion from a comfortable life of
affluence to a state of delusion,
becoming crazy cat women in
the end. Edith tightly controls
her daughter, failing to let Little
Edie live her life independent
from her. Consequently, they
lead a lonely existence together
in East Hampton, letting their
home fall into decay and living
in squalor, with dirt, filth and

a host
compan
that th
Kennet
her sop
ion-for
audien
Reyn
the her
"The
likeable
are flay
the lan
sent th
Theya
who ch
way w;
It's bla
love ita
peoplec
it," he s

of animals as their only Kennedy Jr. in the first act and
nions. One would think later on plays the character of
ie cousins of Jacquelyn Jerry, a 17-year-old living in the
dy-Onassis would have neighborhood.
histicated flair and fash- "One of the hardest parts
ward presence, but the is getting the accents down,"
ce is shown the contrary. Douglass said. "Each has a very
tolds has his own take on noticeable background that (is)
oines of this play: very different from my Mid-
characters are so darn western accent. (For Joe Ken-
e. They are smart women, nedy), I researched his family,
wed, have a command of how he was raised and what was
guage, (and they) repre- expected of him. I watched a lot
e aristocracy in decline. of speeches made by his broth-
are viewed as outsiders ers. For Jerry, I took a lot from
ose to live their lives their howI acted in high school."
ithout apologizing for it. The play incorporates the dia-
ck or white. People either logue from the documentary and
and love those women or intersperses it into the songs,
don't get it and don't like similar to the Broadway produc-
aid. tion. Reynolds encapsulates the
first act's WWII setting with a
score reminiscent of Cole Porter,
idents team while the music in the second
act becomes haunting and mys-
p with the terious,'to accompany the play's
Tennessee Williams-esque sto-
Ann Arbor ryline.
"The play opens up a lot of
vic Theatre. questions. There are no answers.
It makes you look at yourself and
look at people who you consider
aren't normal, who are differ-
cast is composed of nine ent. You look at the mirror and
who each play multiple decide those answers for your-
The lead actress plays self, and in the words of Big
n the first act and then Eddy, 'you choose,' " Reynolds
he daughter in the second. said.
e of this arrangement, she As "Grey Gardens" attempts
more encompassing view to demonstrate, sometimes the
relationship with both most memorable stories are not
School of Music, The- the ones that resolve questions,
Dance freshman Kevin but rather the ones that raise
ss plays Joseph Patrick them.

"
i
"

S ti
U
Ci

The
actors
roles.
Edith i
plays th
Becaus
has a i
of and
figures.
atre &
Dougla

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