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Shame 2011

Brandon is a 30-something man living in New York who is unable to manage his sex life. After his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment, Brandon's world spirals out of control. From director Steve McQueen, Shame is a compelling and timely examination of the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us.

Starring:
Michael Fassbender, Lucy Walters
Runtime:
1 hour, 36 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Steve McQueen
Starring Michael Fassbender, Lucy Walters
Supporting actors Mari-Ange Ramirez, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie, Alex Manette, Hannah Ware, Elizabeth Masucci, Rachel Farrar, Loren Omer, Carey Mulligan, Lauren Tyrrell, Marta Milans, Jake Siciliano, Robert Montano, Charisse Bellante, Amy Hargreaves, Anna Rose Hopkins, Chazz Menendez, Carl Low
Studio Momentum Pictures
BBFC rating Suitable for 18 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

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By S. J. Williams TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Jan. 2012
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Spoilers?

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.
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Format: DVD
* Contains possible spoilers

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.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
For a film that portrays the existential life of a 30-something sexually-primed yet emotionally repressed man, Steve McQueen manages to extrapolate and convey even the most rawest of feelings to exact degree. Motion pictures have seldom managed to keep me truly engrossed right to the very end and leave me lost for words in the process. A progressive and bleak drama of this kind is a rarity for me to watch, but as soon as the end credits rolled I found myself in stark awe at the gravitas of McQueen's filmmaking while soulless and exhausted at the sheer hopelessness and disparity of Fassbender's performance of Brandon, in which the culmination of it all hit me like a tonne of bricks.

All the elements of a solid drama are well-grounded: the cinematography captures plush, elegant interiors of jazzy evening lounges right to the monochromatic, empty vessel of Brandon's apartment which houses only his apathetic skin. Gritty New York back streets and grey skyline views over parkways don't just lie in the backdrop and support environmental context; they bolster character troubles and lifestyles. It prevents the film from being a caricature in itself and plunges us right into the everyday solidarity of Brandon's life.

The script is polished and matured, never wasting a single line and providing enough depth for each character; Brandon's employment occupation is irrelevant here to an extent, and McQueen is skilful enough to only deliver snippets of his workplace integrity whilst avoiding complete deviation from the premise at hand. Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is also given plenty of realistic background for us.
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