In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life — which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction — is disrupted when his sister Sissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

IMDb [7.9/10]

RottenTomatoes [80%, 73%]

Writer/Director Steve McQueen and actor Michael Fassbender have now combined to make two low key really good movies, this one and the 2008 biography drama Hunger, in which Irish republican Bobby Sands leads the inmates of a Northern Irish prison in a hunger strike. I have yet to see both, but most all sources online have a majority of reviewers that think very highly of the two films, both the writing/direction and the lead performance of Fassbender. Well, now it’s finally time to see this film that I have been waiting so long to see! Maybe I’ll review Hunger next, since it is available on Netflix instant watch.

I must note that this movie is rated NC-17. It has full on nudity of both sexes, and has a lot of sex. I just want everyone to know this before watching it with a younger person or family members, which could be pretty awkward.

Brandon Sullivan is a sex addict. This is clear seconds into the movie. He pays girls to come to his place, he watches pornography on his computer at work, and seducing woman with just his eyes on subways and in bars. This does not take away from his successful business career, however, as he lands a bit pitch with a client. He celebrates with a little of what he loves best. He comes home to find his sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan [An Education, Drive] looking to live with him for an undisclosed amount of time, and his life becomes harder to maintain with her doing so.

McQueen’s film is dark, in a way that mainstream movies haven’t really shown the public. Brandon’s addiction is real, and there are people just like him out there in the world. It’s a very intense film, with a remarkable number of really lengthy continuous shots. It has to be difficult to write these out and make them work, but McQueen did it. These long shots prove more of the actors than the director, in my mind, and in these shots we get a genuinely fine performance from Michael Fassbender.

Fassbender is frighteningly good as this estranged sex addict. From alone and moving to scary and angry, the range of emotion displayed audibly and physically is damn impressive. I can understand why he did not receive a nomination for best actor this year after seeing the film, but if this performance was in any lighter of a film, he surely would have been nominated with a real chance to win. Otherwise, this was quite the year for Fassbender, coming out with Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Shame, and Haywire. After his breakout in 2006 in 300, he has shown the ability to play a variety of different roles. With Prometheus coming out this year, Fassbender is a force to be reckoned with.

Michael Fassbender

Carey Mulligan was also quite good as Fassbender’s sister. Equally as messed up, just with less screen time. Mulligan is another name on a big rise to stardom, with solid production the last three years. You can see her next in The Great Gatsby.

Carey Mulligan

When I was told this film had some nudity, I was prepared for a sex scene or two with Fassbender maybe passing by briefly, but that is not what I got. There are several sex scenes, and nudity is taken very lightly, with Fassbender walking freely around in the nude in the opening minutes. It doesn’t bother me that it is shown so much, but I think it could bother others.

My Rating

  4/4 – Shame is a uniquely intense and truthful film, both in it’s story, direction, and acting. Although worthy of it’s NC17 rating, Fassbender’s performance alone warrants a viewing.


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