September 18, 2012
Released January 13, 2012
Directed By Steve McQueen
Starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan
Shame is a psycho-sexual drama co-written and directed by Steve McQueen, starring Michael Fassbender. It received a rare NC-17 rating, due to it’s high amount of nudity and sexual content. I’m warning you now, this film is completely off-limits for children. Shame revolves around Brandon (Fassbender), who, on the surface, is living the dream. He’s in his mid-30′s, very successful, and lives in New York City. What no one knows are is deep, dark secrets. Brandon is a sex addict. He craves sex, every single day. He constantly watches pornography and sleeps with different women each and every night. The man has a serious problem, and the film explores what it’s like to struggle with such a terrible thing such as this. When his troubled little sister, coincidentally named “Sissy” (Mulligan), comes back into his life, Brandon’s world is turned completely upside down, as he is caught in a constant struggle between right and wrong. At times, Shame may be hard to watch, but ultimately, the film proves to be very rewarding.
The film follows events of Brandon’s everyday life. You see his routines, habits, and most of all, his deviant desires for sex. It’s as close to a study on a sex addict as you will get. It totally envelops the character. The story of Brandon is extremely intriguing and wonderful to watch. Shame’s script is written with ambition, and it shows in every single scene. There’s plenty of drama, especially when Sissy comes into the picture. Fassbender puts on an Oscar-worthy performance, making you feel every ounce of his pain, sorrow, and…wait for it…shame. Whether he’s staring down a woman on the subway or crying in the rain, you can relate, and you feel what he feels. This is rare and it needs to be done with such precision in other movies these days.The chemistry between Fassbender and Mulligan is simply fantastic, as they play the perfect dysfunctional brother and sister. Although Brandon doesn’t show his emotions very often, you know deep down, he cares more for her than any human being on the planet. When his addiction worsens, you can only help but feel sorry for everyone involved. It’s as if you’re running from a demon in a nightmare, but you’re running nowhere. The demon always gets you, no matter what. Their relationship is something many will be able to relate to. Shame’s story and acting are truly top-notch.
The emotional depth in Shame is what sends it over the top. When a movie can make you connect the way this one does, you have something special. The film bares all, and I mean ALL. It’s almost like the film itself has no shame. It is however, what makes it feel realistic and honest. There are no secrets, everything is on the table for all to see. This honesty makes the film what it is. It’s heartfelt, emotional, and true to life. Shame is one of the most original and fresh films I’ve seen in a while. McQueen’s directing is spot-0n, not to mention the great writing. The film, at times, may seem slow, almost completely stalling. Some may be turned off by this, seeing it as a boring part of the movie. I, for one, believe these scenes are necessary because it fits so well with the film’s quiescent tone. Some of the most important parts of the movie are like this, including one where Sissy is singing a slow Sinatra tune at a show, while a tear rolls down Brandon’s eye. It’s moments like these that define a film, that make a film great. Shame has those moments.
In Shame, we watch Brandon as his sexual desires eat him alive, inside out, emotionally and physically. We wonder if he will ever overcome this disease. We hope he does, before he meets his, what seems to be, inevitable end. It’s a terrible thing indeed, but it sure makes for a standout film. Fassbender puts on a career-defining performance and the film’s script is tremendous. Shame is gripping, from start to finish. It’s tranquil, psycho-sexual overtone combined with outstanding acting, directing, and emotional depth make Shame an instant success. I wish it would have never ended.
5 out of 5