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
United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.78:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast/Crew Interview(s), Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Thirty-something Brandon Sullivan is a New York yuppie. He is also a sex addict who thinks about sex all the time when he's not having sex. He surfs for porn on his work computer, masturbates often even in his office's men's room, and eyes strange women in whatever situation he's in in the hopes of having quick anonymous sex with them. He hides his sex addiction from those few people in his life who he lets in in an emotional sense, unlike his married boss, David Fisher, who is open about his marital infidelities to his male work colleagues. And the act of sex holds no emotional connotation whatsoever for Brandon. The arrival back into his life and his apartment of his sister Sissy Sullivan, from who he was estranged due to the emotional baggage associated, changes Brandon's life, especially in what he can do in what used to be the privacy and sanctity of his apartment. Sissy, unlike Brandon, sees sex and emotional attachment as one in the same. Brandon's life begins to spiral out of control following Sissy's arrival. He gains a better understanding, albeit an unpleasant one, of his life following an incident involving Sissy. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: Australian Film Institute, BAFTA Awards, British Independent Film Awards, Golden Globes, Venice Film Festival, ...Shame (2011)