Review: Shame (2012)

“How are you helping me? Huh? Look at me. You come in here and you’re a weight on me. Do you understand me? You’re a burden. You’re just dragging me down.”

Shame is a British/American drama film. It stars Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class) and Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go). The film is directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger).

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment stirring memories of their shared painful past, Brandon’s insular life spirals out of control.

Shame is the latest film that teams up Fassbender and McQueen together again, having previously both did Hunger together. It’s a film that gained a lot of buzz and critical success from its festival trails. The film’s focus is on addiction, more specifically sex addiction.

Michael Fassbender plays Brandon. He’s a successful New York worker who has a dark secret. He’s addicted to sex. So much so we see his life spiral out of control down darker holes because of it. He doesn’t seek love or intimacy but just the raw state its in. He doesn’t control it but is a slave to it. It controls his everyday life from buying escorts at night to masturbating every morning and at work. As it stands this is Fassbender’s best performance to date. It’s extremely brave of the man as he bares all for the world to see.

Carey Mulligan plays Sissy, Brandon’s younger sister. She appears out of the blue and turns Brandon’s life upside down and the equilibrium of his world. She’s just as damaged and messed up as Brandon it would appear. They both have a close yet extremely broken relationship, it’s something we never find out about either. Mulligan equally gives us a powerful and raw performance.

Visually, Shame is shot beautifully. It’s artistically done extremely well, but thats what you get with Steve McQueen. What I think is the underrated hero among this film is the editor. The film is very graphic with its sex scenes yet it’s been handled so well and tastefully edited. You see lots of close-ups in particular on Brandon’s face. What the film doesn’t do is glorify his lifestyle which is important. It’s an addiction which is never positive. Even though Brandon seems dependent on it he always seems disgusted with himself. It as if he doesn’t really enjoy it but is just feeding the demon inside of him.

In essence Shame is a brilliant drama that tackles a different type of addiction you might normally see. It’s shot magnificently and we see fine performances from everyone. If there was any justice then Fassbender would be nominated for a few awards for his portrayal of Brandon. My only gripe was that I think it was a little too long and could of been shorter, but other than that it is a superbly raw and brave film.


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