Shame [2011] ★★★

“Shame” is a disturbing but vivid portrait of a sex addict that will push you out of your comfort zone into uncharted territory. Director Steve McQueen, who previously worked with Michael Fassbender in the equally good “Hunger” creates a palpable sense of unease from start to finish. But you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen. Fassbender’s character Brandon is a sex addict, as I mentioned earlier. The thing is, you won’t know what a sex addict really means unless you see this movie. Brandon is a man who will have sex with anyone, anywhere. If he can’t find anyone to do the job, he hires a prostitute, goes to a gay bar, or simply masturbates. Brandon also lives alone, well until his younger sister, a club singer in from Los Angeles shows up. She isn’t the best person to be around with, and whatever their family history, we know something isn’t right between them. Sister is played by Carey Mulligan, who’s been terrific these past few years in “An Education”, “Never Let Me Go” and more recently “Drive”. I admit: the movie is rough and difficult to watch at times. But Fassbender’s performance knocked me out of my seat (why was he robbed of at least an Oscar nomination, I’ll never know). McQueen’s storytelling approach is oblique and untidy, but that seems to suit the subject and its multiplicity of characters. There are no weak links in the cast, an impressive array of actors who make their flawed characters seem absolutely real. McQueen’s “Shame” is an extreme alternative to the Hollywood formula—the polar opposite of escapism. But it is a striking and unusual piece of work; too shocking and too good to be called anything but a failure. You’ll never feel closer to a sex addict.

Rating: 3/4

2 replies »

  1. Fassbender blew me away, the steadiness of his performance in the long shots is unbelievable. It’s too hard to watch i admit, but the movie left me devastated…and Sissy is heartbreaking.

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