Shame Review

Shame is not a film for everyone.  On top of the NC-17 rating that is likely to scare off more casual moviegoers, the film’s subject matter, sex addiction, narrows the viewing audience even further.  After watching the film however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the nudity and sex is not pornographic, but rather is tastefully done and justified.

Director Steve McQueen’s second film, Shame, is a real and emotional portrait of a man overwhelmed by his sexual addition.  For the protagonist Brandon, sex has taking over everything in his life.  He spends nearly all his free time arranging sexual encounters with random women or prostitutes, and most of his time at work watching pornography on his computer. When his sister moves is to his apartment, Brandon’s routine lifestyle is broken as she begins to judge him for his obsession, starting Brandon on a downward spiral towards shame and depravity.

If you watch this movie, the first thing that should jump out at you is not the content, but the color of this film.  McQueen color scheme of light blues, grays and whites throughout the film create a relaxed and melancholy tone to the movie, while not going over the top with color saturation. The colors seem to add an additional layer of sorrow to Brandon’s plight as he comes to see his sex addiction for what it is. Just by seeing these somber colors we already know how helpless Brandon is to his sexual desires.

The best part of this film by far is its characters, both how well written and acted they are.  This may be a small thing, but the fact that Brendan and his sister actually act like sibling is something that I appreciate and rarely see in movies.  In addition, both Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, playing his sister, give nothing short of stellar performances.

While I have talked about how the more dark and somber side to this movie, it is not without its moments of levity, most of which come from the character of David, Brandon’s boss, who is a hopelessly bad pick up artist constantly trying to cheat on his wife.  Although his role becomes more serious as the movie progresses, he is worth mentioning, as he is a very well written and interesting character.

McQueen’s ability to create a film that is neither crude nor tasteless in its portrayal of sex addiction is commendable to say the least.  The visual style is impressive and captivating, and when combined with Michael Fassbender’s believable and raw portrayal of Brandon this movie becomes a definite must see. That is as long as you are older then seventeen.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

23 thoughts on “Shame Review

  1. Steve June 13, 2012 / 7:01 pm

    You’ve sold me – I am going to see it.

    • Andrew King June 13, 2012 / 7:59 pm

      Don’t say I didn’t warn you about the sexual content, but it is handled really well and I personally think it’s a great film.

      • Steve June 14, 2012 / 12:46 am

        I’ve seen it all. I’m actually interested in the idea of sexual addiction as star of a film, combined with what seems from your review to be a very careful, thoughtful director’s approach. I always appreciate deliberate consideration and attention to detail on the part of the director.

    • Andrew King June 14, 2012 / 5:57 pm

      Funny you mention that, I was planning to watch it soon. i have heard it is even better then Shame. Have you seen it? If so can you offer an opinion on it?

      • AndyWatchesMovies June 14, 2012 / 6:03 pm

        It’s hard to compare anything other than the cinematography (both are amazing, but I prefer Shame) and Fassbender’s performance (he is stunning in Hunger). Hunger is a very good film that is incredibly hard to watch, even more so than Shame.

      • Andrew King June 14, 2012 / 6:07 pm

        I have heard similar things about it before. The subject matter is really interesting, and after watching Shame I think I will watch just about anything McQueen makes. I will definitely watch it, and a review of it may be coming in the foreseeable future. We’ll see.

  2. reelgirl327 June 14, 2012 / 10:54 pm

    Though it’s true I was expecting something more groundbreaking in terms character development, the subtle character arcs were far from unsatisfying. Excellent film.

    • Andrew King June 14, 2012 / 10:57 pm

      Subtlety is something few movies really seem to pull off. For me, this was one of them for sure.

  3. emisformaker June 15, 2012 / 2:20 am

    I don’t mind hard to watch (I count Requiem for a Dream and Antichrist as two of my favourite films), and I like subtle. Also, Fassbender is a huge selling point right now. Just saw him in Prometheus, and would love to see yet another facet of his talent.

    • Andrew King June 15, 2012 / 2:24 am

      He really is a tremendous actor. I would highly recommend it. Also, although I am yet to see it, his performance in Hunger is supposed to be amazing.

  4. Franz Patrick June 15, 2012 / 4:54 am

    I also liked the movie because although it explored sex as an addiction, I can admit that some of it was titillating.

    How did you feel about the ending? (Don’t want to spoil much for your readers who haven’t seen it.) To narrow it down, regarding the unanswered phone calls.

    • Andrew King June 15, 2012 / 11:23 am

      I personally liked the ending, both the part with the phone calls and thew physical ending to the movie. The foreshadowing was very well done in my opinion.

  5. thatdes June 16, 2012 / 4:14 am

    I liked Shame a lot. I would say that his decent is not so much because of his sister nagging him, but more that she represents their childhood. Their childhood was definitely abusive (likely physical and sexual) and having his sister around brings up far too many memories. His sister is a trigger point for all of his issues. Fassbender is great as always.

    • Andrew King June 16, 2012 / 12:45 pm

      Well, what I got out of it was it wasn’t really her nagging, but it was more her holding up a mirror to his behavior. After she catches him in the restroom and find his computer, he becomes angry and desperate, throwing out everything he has related to sex.

  6. Hallie Madenski June 17, 2012 / 8:15 am

    I loved Shame, it was just so sad because of the ending and Fassbender’s character never truly being able to feel or understand love.

    • Andrew King June 17, 2012 / 4:33 pm

      I am the kind of person who doesn’t need a happy ending for this movie. I really thought it was a great film.

  7. Genki Jason June 17, 2012 / 1:41 pm

    I found Shame to be a pretty moving film because of the relationship between Brandon and Sissy. Great performances from Fassbender and Mulligan!

    • Andrew King June 17, 2012 / 4:31 pm

      I agree, honestly between this movie and our Prometheus review, this blog is slowly becoming the Fassbender Fan Club.

  8. happypiggy88 June 19, 2012 / 4:51 am

    Nice review! I’ve been dying to see this film ever since I heard about it when I went to Sundance 🙂 Can’t wait to finally check it out!

    • Andrew King June 19, 2012 / 5:32 pm

      I would recommend it if you have any interest.

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