Who's in it?
Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale
What's it about?
Shame is the story of a successful 30 something Brandon (Fassbender) living in New York, his all consuming sex addiction and how the arrival of his wayward sister (Mulligan) unravels his tightly wound world and brings to the fore his debilitating shame.
In the second pairing for McQueen and Fassbender since Hunger we see once again that dialogue takes a back seat to raw emotion and intense character study. For so much explicit sex, nudity and a noteworthy full frontal from the gorgeous Fassbender this is not an easy watch.
Brandon is fully aware of his sexual addiction but never seeks help or seems to want to change. Instead he delves deeper, hiring prostitutes, having sex in alleyways and filling his work hard drive with 'seriously sick sh*t' (a quote from his more identifiably sleazy boss). The arrival of his sister, instead of being a clichéd reunion, angers him and pushes him further into his addiction. There's a history between them that is only ever hinted at and I would have liked to know more.
|Mulligan in a mesmerising 5 minute uncut scene|
Fassbender's acting talent drives this film and does what neither Tiger Woods nor any two bit footballer ever could, he actually evokes empathy for this addiction. He portrays the internal struggle and self sabotaging behaviour to great effect. Brandon is not a psychopath but a relateable, normal man and that's one of the most powerful things about this movie.
Mulligan as his wayward sister is captivating, there is an extended scene where she sings an old jazz version of 'New York, New York' in a posh lounge that causes a silent tear from her brother and again shows us a little insight into their twisted relationship. She has one memorable but enigmatic quote that changed my view of Brandon entirely, 'We're not bad people, we just come from a bad place'.
This film has divided critics, some lauding it as 'brave and evocative', others 'soulless and depressing'. I'm firmly in the former camp. Not sure I could describe this film as 'enjoyable' but for the acting talent alone I'm recommending it. Fassbender and McQueen have been nominated and have won a litany of awards for Shame with, undoubtedly, more to come with the Oscars, wouldn't you like to know why? Just don't bring the parents, yeah?