Firmly planting itself near the top of the memorable performances and films that have been overlooked by the Oscars, Michael Fassbender's astonishing work in Shame
is genuinely something to behold. Stripped bare, both physically and emotionally, he plays Brandon, a man struggling with a sex addiction, whose life gets yet more complex when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to stay. It's comfortably one of the least titillating films ever made about sex, and in this case, it's all the better for it.
Directed by Steve McQueen, who also worked with Fassbender on the acclaimed Hunger, Shame is an ambitious, raw drama. As a study of a character in the depths of an addiction, it both breaks a taboo or two, and is unflinching in its portrayal. And while there's an argument that the film itself isn't quite the equal of its leading man, Shame is both important and courageous. McQueen, certainly, is a director who very much does things his own way.
The disc's extras inevitably focus on Fassbender's provocative work, with a special Q&A with the actor himself. There are also individual interviews with key members of the cast, although hearing a little more from Steve McQueen would have been welcome. Still, it's a solid package of extra features, and it's a starting point of discussion for a film that lends itself to dissection and analysis. At the very least, though, Shame's place in history is assured, just for the quality of acting on display. --Jon Foster