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Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a 30-something man living comfortably in New York, balancing a busy job and active social life. When the wayward Sissy (Carey Mulligan), turns up at his apartment unannounced, Brandon’s carefully managed lifestyle spirals out of control. From award winning director Steve McQueen (Hunger), Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.
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
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a wonderful, powerful film which made a great impression when shown at the Leeds Film Festival in late 2011.
Brandon, brilliantly played by Fassbinder, works in New York in an unspecified job, but he is clearly successful and on the top table. His relationships at work are defined by his position in the hierarchy: his boss is his mate, but it is pretty clear that Brandon is eager to please him and that they are certainly not close. He has a series of sexual relationships with women in the film which are driven purely by sexual gratification: he visits prostitutes, seems skilled at picking up women in social encounters for no-strings sex and is clearly heavily into porn sites, including webcams and chat. He is sexually predatory, but only in seeking consensual sex. His home laptop 'sleeps' in porn access mode, it seems, and his boss complains that Brandon's computer check reveals a hard drive swamped with extreme porn: responsibility is deflected onto a recent intern. His flat is clean, characterless and monochrome: there are no signs that any of his frequent encounters leave any trace in his domestic life and it seems little more than a space to live in.
Into this emotional desert arrives his sister, Cissy, a singer. Despite her need for somewhere to stay, he is so determined on keeping his life uncluttered by an fetters, emotional or otherwise, that his agreement is only reluctantly given and given with very bad grace. Cissy's presence in his life once more and the emotional neediness which comes with it is something he can barely tolerate, not because it is simply inconvenient but because it stirs up unspecified emotional trauma from the past. She self-harms, desperately needs warmth from someone, but Brandon is unwilling or unable to provide it.Read more ›
Well, I finally got round to seeing this film. It didn't get a release at my multiplex in the sticks and the local library didn't have the DVD despite saying it was in stock. Maybe the theme & story about a sex addict and his equally dysfunctional sister deemed this film 'too disturbing'. This is ironic because the film is far from titillating despite the subject matter.
I enjoyed the film. For a film about sex addiction, the truth, as said by many others, is that it isn't very arousing. Instead, the sex is cold, unemotional. Something has happened to Brandon & his sister, Sissy, it is briefly alluded to in a phone message when Sissy tells her brother, 'we aren't bad people, we just come from a bad place.' A brother & sister, the film began to remind me of 'Festen', what happens to the siblings there, & Henry James' 'Turn of the Screw.'
The film is about a man in constant motion, sex/on the subway/work/jogging, his constant preoccupation with sex (masturbation, pornography, random pick-ups in a bar & consorting with prostitutes) seems like an escape. From what? Himself? His past? Reality? The film is about Brandon's emotional repression and vulnerability as well as his relationship with his fragile unstable sister. Brandon is restless. Why? Perhaps because he is afraid to think, which might meaning confronting himself & some unrevealed deep psychological hurt. And so, instead, he exists in some private hell.
Matters are complicated by the arrival of his sister. Every time, Sissy tries to get close, even climbing into Brandon's bed, possibly to seek comfort & protection, he reacts with aggression and pushes her away.Read more ›
In terms of sexual content and nudity: the film is an 18, it is to be expected. Additionally, whilst the entirety of 'Shame' is structured around and based explicitly on sex, I felt that the core message of the film was nothing to do with sex at all. Sex is instead a tool to facilitate and express the harsh and sometimes painfully blunt realities of addiction and all that is bound up within it. Therefore, the scenes of sex, masturbation and pornography are not in the slightest romanticised, but honest, candid and as a result, uncomfortable to watch.
'Shame' is stripped bare to minimal dialogue and few main characters, ultimately allowing the exposure of a greatly thought provoking and emotive representation of the realities and consequences of addiction. A brilliant film.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Luckily for me i'm too old for sexual addiction, but some suffer this and not just celebrities. Fassbinder plays a successful man about town in New York who in a sense has it all. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This was a bit to weird for me but a powerful film. I think Michael fassbender is gorgeous but to see him so nude, and in loads of sexual acts. Very explicit. Read morePublished 3 months ago by kathleen blackley
I love Michael Fassbender but didn't even finish this film....too weird man!Published 5 months ago by Marz24
In "Shame" we follow Brandon, a man who can't manage his sex life. When his sister makes an unexpected visit his life starts spiralling out of control. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer