Shame (4/18/12)

ShameMovie Eighty Seven

Shame is a film I would recommend everyone to see. It’s certainly not easy to sit through, but it is absolutely mesmerizing.

I watched writer/director Steve McQueen’s (no, not the Steve McQueen from The Great Escape) previous film, Hunger late last year and found it to be both horrific and beautiful. The acting is some of the finest in cinematic history and instantly shot Michael Fassbender to the top of my greatest actors list. There is a particular shot in that film that lasts for close to 18 minutes and is chock-full of complex dialogue that is probably more dialogue than the rest of the film combined. It’s absolutely amazing. Shame also has several very long shots and some equally awesome moments that show McQueen really can capture lightning in a bottle twice.

For Shame Michael Fassbender plays Brandon, a sex addict living in New York. Soon after, his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), visits him and throws his world off kilter. Brandon and Sissy have a relationship that could safely be called “totally messed up”. Brandon clearly has a problem having her around and it seems that could be due to past events we are unaware of, or because it brings his addiction to the forefront of his mind. As the two interact, we find out more about them and their personal issues.

We are never given reasons behind Brandon’s addiction we are only shown it exists and how he deals with it. We see how it negatively affects his life and on a particularly self-destructive bender, we see how sick he truly is and he gets no pleasure from this, only pain. Michael Fassbender is absolutely resplendent in this role and you really sympathize with Brandon’s plight. Carey Mulligan also gives an amazing performance. The beauty in every shot is stunning at times, despite some of the ugly things happening on screen. Steve McQueen is new to filmmaking, but he has proven that his name means quality.

Shame is strictly for adults only. It’s NC-17 rating strikes me as a bit odd since I didn’t think the material was overly graphic, certainly not nearly as much as In the Realm of the Senses. That said, however, the subject matter is also very adult. I’m sure many kids (when I say kids, I mean teens) would see this film for the sex alone and not really grasp the point. Shame is very adult, but it’s not as gratuitous as I was expecting. Michael Fassbender was absolutely robbed for the best actor Academy Award.

I give it 5 singing Carey Mulligans out of 5.


Rotten Tomatoes


38 responses to “Shame (4/18/12)

  1. Loved it. Dark, but compelling. Only thing that bothered us was the actors’ British accent…. There was no way they were from New Jersey…
    Le Clown

  2. Great movie. You liked it a little more than I did, though. The performances were great, magnetic, heartbreaking. Amazing cinematography. I hated Carey’s rendition of NYNY! It was extremely long and slow.

    • Apparently that scene was shot on the first take with three separate cameras catching the genuine reactions, which I knew before watching it so perhaps that helped me enjoy that scene more.
      I went in expecting to like the movie but likely never being able to watch it again (which were my thoughts on Hunger) but this one really clicked with me and I have thought about it a lot since watching it.

      • Yeah, it stays with you. And don’t get me wrong, I loved their performances, especially Fassbender’s reaction to her sister’s singing, it’s the song itself that bothered me.

  3. I’ve never heard of either of the actors, but you do make it sound interesting. I’m not a big fan of movies that I have to try to sit through, though. I’ll be puttng this one on my list of “maybes” i think 😀

  4. The first time I saw Fassbender was in Inglourious Basterds and since then I’ve been interested in his work as well. I have been/am very curious to see this. Good review!

  5. Fassbender had me at hello with his brilliant portrayal as Erik Lensherr/Magneto in X-men: First Class. I will be seeing this one.

  6. Very messed up flick but one that worked perfectly in terms of tone and mood. Fassbender was also robbed of an Oscar nomination which pissed me off to the high heavens considering I thought he gave the best performance of the whole year. Great review.

  7. I saw the trailer for this just the other day. Interesting how often that happens, with your blog in particular.

    • I didn’t think it was laughable at all. I thought it was appropriate because it shows us that his appetite for sex transcends gender. That it //is// an addiction that’s so out of his control, he’s willing to get it from whoever, wherever. For me, it made the character more sympathetic.

      What I found disingenuous was when he saw you-know-who in the end. It felt like a desperate cry for us to care more when it didn’t need to.

      • Really interesting and I agree that certainly constitutes addiction though I dislike a red-lit gay bar being used as his rock-bottom-inferno. Thanks for reading!

  8. I wanted to find someone to talk to about this film because I was very underwhelmed by it. I don’t know what it was exactly but I was left thinking “What were you trying to tell me, film?” I guess the best way to describe my reaction to this film is “unchanged”.

    • It isn’t a film with a strong narrative, that’s for sure. I think what we’re supposed to take from the film is that empathy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everyone will be empathetic towards Brandon and his vice.

      For me, I loved the visuals and the psychology without being psychological aspects of the film. The main qualifier for movies I like are movies that I can’t stop thinking about, and this is a film I am still thinking about every day. It’s a slice of the life of a human with a problem and we’re given special access to his best and worst qualities and left to decide for ourselves what kind of person he is.

      All that said…I can certainly see why people don’t care for this film for reasons beyond just the subject matter.

  9. Deftly made film. Not exactly enjoyable, but very respectable. And terrific acting from both Fassbender and Mulligan. I totally agree with you that Fassbender deserved more recognition in terms of awards (but he did win a Tommy D Award….haha).

    I like how you pointed out that we don’t know much about Brandon except for what we see at this point in time. This snapshot-in-the-life-of-a-character approach reminds me a bit of the Martin Scorsese classic, Taxi Driver, which gives us a brief glimpse into the psychological instability of Travis Bickle. Of course, that was another great acting performance (Robert De Niro in 1976….’nuff said).

  10. Pingback: April Movies Round-Up | Andy Watches Movies

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