DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen

CAST: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale


RUNNING TIME: 101 |minutes


A lowdown dirty – oh, look, a naked Michael Fassbender! Let’s get it out of the way. Shame is not for everyone. Its classification rules out many and being directed by Steve McQueen (see Hunger) limits its mainstream appeal even more.

McQueen and his Hunger lead, Fassbender, reunite for Shame, a movie art house lovers will like. It will confuse everyone else.

It’s about Brandon (Fassbender), a New York executive who is addicted to sex with strangers, with paid strangers and with porn. His life is disrupted when his younger sister, Sissy (Mulligan), comes to visit.

Well, it’s more like she’s there under the guise of needing a place to crash while she pursues a career singing the blues, but she really just wants to be close to her brother.

Brandon’s life had long since started to come apart at the seams. There’s no pleasure in his pleasure principles – he feeds an addiction that’s akin to a bottomless well.

In fact, he looks as if he’s leading an empty existence. When Sissy moves in, she brings with her their collective childhood baggage, and it’s not pretty. Plus, they always seem to catch each other naked.

Once when she’s bathing and again when he is masturbating in the bathroom. Neither finds this strange, or has the urge to leave.

Sometimes, a city is used as a backdrop and a silent character. Here, New York is a dark, cold, smog-filled mirror of Fassbender’s life. A palette of blues and greys makes his existence a gloomy one. Imagine more than an hour-and-a- half of that. And five full-frontals all in the first half-hour of the film! It’s labelled a movie about a sex addict, but, really, Shame is more about an emotional thirst Brandon doesn’t ever quite quench.

Not that he believes he can quench it anyway.

The perceived incestuous, sexual tension between him and Sissy is odd and left up to the viewer to guess about, and his ease in finding women he doesn’t know who are in the mood for wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am sex isn’t believable for his character.

Shame isn’t a film I’d encourage you to spend money on, but if you’re up for a challenge, watch it.

If you liked… Hunger… you will enjoy this.