Thursday, 2 February 2012

Drinking/Fucking/Fighting (notes on Haywire and Shame)

In the opening scene of Stephen Soderberg’s Haywire, Mallory (Gina Carano) is joined at her window diner booth by Aaron (Channing Tatum). Off screen, a waitress asks for his order. “You don’t have beer?” “No, I wish.”

Soon we flashback from icy, sober Upstate New York, to the warmer, boozier world of Barcelona. Mallory and Aaron are agents for hire, involved in a plot too complicated to fathom, let alone recount. As Mallory dispatches various unlucky adversaries she never seems far away from a bottle of wine (red, white, still, sparkling; this girl isn’t encumbered by any restrictive poison fetish like her dullard prototype, Bond). In Haywire, characters chug it back like extras in a Hong Sang Soo movie. Perhaps Soderberg was aware of Carano’s party history when casting, but whatever the reason the film is no doubt enlivened by having it’s characters refreshingly refreshed. And as we all know, getting beaten up doesn’t hurt half as much when you’re a bit pissed.


Later, in Dublin, she is set up on a fake date with Paul (Michael Fassbender), an Irishman happy to ditch the pints of the black stuff when the situation demands it. Peter Bradshaw wagged how the best way to enjoy Haywire was to imagine that Fassbender is still playing his character from Shame, but I’d have it the other way around.

The scene in which Mallory and Paul go at it in a hotel bedroom (see clip) is livelier, more guttural, and, dammit, sexier than anything in Steve McQueen’s flat film. Haywire is, thankfully, shameless in depicting people getting their kicks. And Carano is right in her likening of fighting to sex:  "If you think about it, it's a very real interaction between two human beings, and it's like an energy. You have a real energy, and I have an energy, an energy that nobody else is going to share."

Perhaps it’s this very real interaction that’s missing from Shame. Talking about sex addiction in Sight and Sound Fassbender noted that “it’s not all a terrible affliction. There are definitely moments of fun, and that’s why it’s such a powerful drug.” But where are these moments? Watching Fassbender smothered between the thighs of Carano tells us more about human sexuality than the parade of monotonous humpings in Shame.


Also, in Haywire nobody wears a really annoying scarf.

No comments:

Post a Comment