blake’s review published on Letterboxd:
Watched again because me and Lindsay are going through Steve McQueens filmography since she’s only seen Widows. I really love how detailed this film is and also Steve McQueens in camera editing. A shot in particular that comes to mind is when the woman on the subway stands up and steps forward and puts her hand on the rail. Instead of cutting to an insert of her hand on the rail and the ring on her finger he pulls the camera back and racks focus. I used to go on about how much I liked how Steve McQueen always keeps a shot going as long as it needs to be, but I think until last night I didn’t realize why this is so effective. Because he holds his shots and doesn’t cut every three seconds every single cut has purpose. I was watching David Sandbergs new video about using cutting as a visual effect last week and it made me start to consider the importance of a cut more often and I think Steve McQueen’s work in particular is like a masterclass when it comes to this. There’s that great scene where sissy is singing at the bar and he stays on her for at least a full minute and it’s captivating, but right before she reaches the climax of the song there’s a cut to Brandon’s reaction and we stay on him for like 30+ seconds as tears run down his face and I think this was a great way of explaining their relationship without every providing too much exposition. I really like how much is left up to the audience to piece together in this movie. It really strikes the perfect balance between too much and too little exposition and most things are shown not told. I like how much of the movie is you thinking about what’s going on in Brandon’s head, and I think a lot of the small details are really cool. The window scene and how it shows his struggle to feel intimacy. The way he looks up at the window during his run, the shot almost feels like something out of a Hitchcock film. Him trying to recreate it later and basically failing is a really cool way to explore his struggle with both intimacy and also trying to fit in.
I see the final shot as Brandon reimagining the earlier event and not so much as something that’s really taking place. I think it’s a cool way to both show his character growth but also leave the audience thinking. Addictions don’t just disappear and as much as I like to think he never stands up and follows her out I think it’s a real possibility. The way Brandon takes his own insecurities out on his sister when he yells at her for having sex with his boss by saying he’s married is also really interesting. It doesn’t take a super sleuth to remember that the woman he goes after on the subway was also married as Steve McQueen focuses on it with his in camera edit. I like the way McQueen explores how Brandon is constantly taking out his insecurities on his sister and other people without ever explicitly explaining this is what’s happening. It’s an interesting topic that I feel like isn’t explored often.
Whenever I sit down and actually write a lot of my thoughts about a movie it’s usually just a stream of consciousness and not thought out, so please excuse how much I just rambled on here lol.