The world is about to be swallowed by a black hole when a man goes into another dimension - a limbo of sorts. When his wife follows him they'll be stuck in this world controlled by The Queen.
I should've known what to expect from Carlos Atanes after having seen "Codex Atanicus". Or at least, I should've know that I won't be able to know what to expect. It's not a surprise to me that I scratched my head bloody over "Maximum Shame". And here I am just about to praise the movie for it. Weird, innit? Even though I'm not sure what I have watched, why it happened, how it happened or why I continued to watch it, I'm very pleased with the new feature movie from underground director Carlos Atanes. And when the cover of his new film explained it as "an apocalyptic fetish horror musical chess sci-fi weird feature movie", it wasn't lying.
It starts with an excellent scene of a girl talking to her husband about numbers and how amazing they are, but all he is thinking about is how the world will soon end. This takes us into another dimension (an abandoned warehouse/factory of sorts) crowded with people with the roles similar to chess pieces. Roles, and names, with names such as The Queen, Knight, The Prophet, etc. To say that the movie is like a game of chess would be a lie though. It might use strategy from one, and intellect from one, but there is no time wasted on giving the other player (in this case, the audience) time to think about their next move. This movie blasts the crazy into your completely unknowing eyes and ears. One of the best bits is the introduction of The Queen - a rollerblading woman with sexy BDSM-ish clothing. As we see her do some awkward, retarded walk on her rollerblades, and then she starts mimic our lead when he goes back and forth in worry. I honestly don't know where I'm gonna go with this review from here - I certainly couldn't explain every turn in the movie without going on for hours. And since I don't have the movie figured out, the best I can do is to promise you that you haven't seen much like this (as with all of Atanes' work). Oh and there's also two great musical numbers in the movie!
"Maximum Shame" is a very strange movie that I honestly know I won't ever figure out completely. I'm likely to re-visit it sometime, but even then I won't be prepared enough. Carlos Atanes' works his magic best this way. He can completely head-fuck you so hard that you won't be able to smoke an after-sex-cigarette afterwards, yet he does it in a fun way. A fun, unique way. A fun, unique, perverted way. At times it's silly, at other times just oddly fascinating, but equally entertaining. Atanes' movie is so different that there are even times in it where you question if what you just saw was a blooper clip because of how silly and misplaced it felt. But it makes sense in the world he has created here. "Expecting the unexpected" is a phrase that comes to mind.
Visually I must say I expected something else. This movie is rather straight-on with little help from different colored lighting. But yet the location - the ruins that the "other dimension" is set in - is a great one and just adds to the feel of being trapped. The set design and various clothing all add to the effect that you have entered a dystopian world of obsessions and fetishes, and that the end of the world is by the door, knocking to come in. If this dimension is what you know as "limbo", I don't know, but that's the closest thing I could think of comparing it to.
I'm not an intellectual person, I'm ready to admit that. And I'm not a chess player (I would be if it was as strange as this movie). But one thing is for sure: "Maximum Shame" might seem like a silly, low-brow, fetish art-effort quite often, but it's a carefully planned out trippy puzzle that I think is worth solving only if you are ready to get down and dirty. But whether you want to take your brain for an excercise, or if you just wanna try something new, it's worth a watch. If you'll enjoy it, I don't know. I just know that it will leave you with a different experience than what you are used to. I won't even begin to go into technical stuff, details on acting, etc. because in this universe it all fits too well.
Would you want a game of chess? No, certainly not now that my head is bleeding!