Posted by Rande Iaboni on December 4, 2011 at 11:54 pm
‘Shame’ is a difficult film to review. Although I found the movie to be fantastic, I didn’t leave the theater feeling happy at all. An uplifting film this is not. ‘Shame’ tells the story of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a 30-something man living in New York City who is dealing with a troubling addiction to sex. After his younger sister Cissy (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment, his world spirals out of control.
But actually, this movie is about so much more. For me it was about the dichotomy of two siblings. Brandon, who is incapable of intimacy and is unable to perform sexual activity with anyone he has feelings for, and Cissy, who is incapable of not developing feelings after sexual relations with a man.
Many of you may have heard of this film already and it’s probably because of the controversial NC-17 rating it received from the MPAA. So to answer your questions, yes it’s very explicit. There is quite a bit of heavy sexual content including plenty of full frontal male nudity from Fassbender himself. And while Fassbender and his multiple sexual partners are appealing to look at, this film is not a pornographic film. The sex scenes are less erotic and more tragic as you watch Brandon spiral deeper and deeper out of control. There is one scene in particular where we finally see the sensitive side to Brandon as he courts the secretary at his office, Marianne. Unfortunately, as I stated earlier, because he has feelings towards her, it will never work out, and it is truly heartbreaking to watch.
Fassbender turns this sex addictive monster into a sympathetic character. As much as the audience may love the sex scenes and Fassbender’s nudity, we want him to get better. While Fassbender is the heart of this film, Carey Mulligan was also very good and I definitely enjoyed the spunkiness of Cissy. There is a real vulnerability to her character. In one scene she states, “We’re not bad people. We just come from a bad place.” This is one of the less-is-more emotional lines of the film. While director Steve Mcqueen doesn’t shy away from the explicit sex, he allows the emotions to be conveyed ambiguously, similarly to Brandon’s life.
Does Brandon ever kick his sex addiction? Well you’ll have to check out ‘Shame’ to find out! It’s okay to go see this film just for the nudity and sex, but I promise you will leave with so much more.