Addiction has its many shapes and forms. I’ve always believed that no one wants to be an addict to hurt himself or to ruin his life--I believe that one becomes an addict for the promise of becoming better. Stronger. Smarter. Suaver. Cooler. Richer. Braver. The promise is always fulfilling but that promise is always a lie. It is a lesson that a lot of people have learned or are learning, if you never had to learn this agonizing human lesson then you are fortunate.
So, how does this all fit in with sex addiction? This kind of addiction is very different since it not only hurts the person with the addiction, but it also hurts the people around him both directly and indirectly, depending on his own situation. Director/writer Steve McQueen boldly goes into this subject matter with his film “Shame”. This film reunites McQueen with Michael Fassbender (Prometheus) after their first film together “Hunger” that took the viewer into a different and yet powerful portrayal of another sensitive and social issue. “Shame” has been rated NC-17 because of its explicit sex scenes. Sensitive viewers may be turned off with the nudity and graphic sex scenes, but if you can get pass it, you will be rewarded with what this film has to offer.
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a young, handsome thirty plus bachelor living in New York. He looks pretty normal and mostly keeps to himself. However, unknown to those close to him and those who know him, Brandon is a sex addict. Brandon sleeps around a lot and enjoys the company of prostitutes. He manages to keep things to himself, and despite the occasional one night stand, Brandon is very low key. Things get complicated when his sister, Sissy (Carrie Mulligan) moves in until she gets back on her feet. Sissy has her own share of problems, and she tries to look up to Brandon for understanding. But Brandon has enough problems of his own and he may not be able to help anyone out emotionally--not even himself.
I have seen several films with this premise. Most of the ones I’ve seen are either a black comedy or something that barely scratches the surface. Steve McQueen’s “Shame” dares to go to the many layers of this premise. The writing and the direction is never afraid to go into the darkest borders of this agonizing addiction. It isn’t all about the addiction, but McQueen engages with a raw, honest to goodness portrayal of a man stricken with such an addiction. “Shame” is impressive that it became a movie that I never cared about its graphic nature since it was done tastefully and with class. The script was able to illustrate the consequences of being a sex addict, and its devastating emotional effects on the person suffering the addiction.
While most movies illustrate the effects of this addiction to the addict’s wife and family, and perhaps his own job, “Shame” does it all. It managed to exhibit that raw power needed to bring the many layers of this addiction forth. It also helps that the lead character is a simple guy with a regular job; it makes the story much more relatable. Effects of Brandon’s addiction to his job is subtly brought forth with light conversations of a computer virus in his work computer. Sexual addiction demands a lot of privacy and so Sissy is the ’monkey wrench’ in this respect. Bringing forth the emotional and psychological detachment that such a person can have is in the person of Brandon’s co-worker Marianne (Nicole Beharie).
Now all the great screenwriting in the world would mean nothing if the film did not have the right actor for the right role. Fassbender was amazing in his portrayal. He was able to bring about the right tone, emotions. Well, he just nailed the role. Fassbender made Brandon more than a character, he became the character. The guilt, the embarrassment, the confusion, self-destructive qualities and most of all anger were all on display. I could not name one or two key scenes that breathed life into his character, I mean, Fassbender was fantastic. Each scene was significantly more complex than the one before, and he just grew along with the script and it was indeed a stunning performance. Carrie Mulligan (Drive) was just as good as Brandon’s sister, but I did feel that her character had several missed opportunities to really grow within the script. Some details behind her were a little standard, but Mulligan and Fassbender made it work as I became engrossed with the story. This film isn’t just a story about Brandon, but it is also a story about a brother and a sister.
The script says it all, and everything was magnificently rounded together by the direction that just makes each scene stand out. McQueen executes the shots with careful timing and areas where he believes can bring forth the emotion behind each scene. The shots are simple and yet it never was afraid to go a little stylish. I mean, McQueen’s direction makes a simple jog in the night to mean a something and it becomes a strong opportunity for drama. The cinematography by Sean Bobbitt used a muted color scheme for most of the film and keeps the shadows within focus to exemplify the film’s dark premise and execution.
“Shame” was a gem that I could almost kick myself for missing it in theaters. As good as it was, it wasn’t a perfect movie, but my complaints were so little to even try to nit-pick. There were times that I did feel that the film rushed into some areas in the last act, but at that point, I was already had by McQueen that I was ready to ignore its small flaws. This film is not an easy watch, but the way it was performed, scripted and shot were on the nose that it was easy to get immersed with the film. “Shame” is a captivating film; I would not say entertaining, and it is definitely a little hard to watch but it is one of 2011’s best films.
Following up his intensely realistic drama “Hunger”, director Steve McQueen follows it up with a second collaboration with actor Michael Fassbender called “Shame”. McQueen handles this film’s concept quite well and he seemed to have done his homework on his premise. Fassbender makes a very convincing, bold and daring portrayal of an office guy named Brandon, struggling with his sex addiction. Carey Mulligan is just as good lending him support … more
SHAME Written and Directed by Steve McQueen Starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan Brandon: Some people fuck up all the time. Steve McQueen’s sophomore film, SHAME, begins with his returning star, Michael Fassbender, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling or into some far off space. He doesn’t move; he just lies there half covered by the blankets for some time. Something in his eyes suggests he can’t move just yet. He is trapped in those precious … more
A goodlooking man in his thirties sits on a New York City subway starring intensely at a married woman seated across from him. It's obvious to the viewer that he's hitting on her and it's just as obvious, that's she's enjoying it. The man is Brandon (Michael Fassbender) and he is a sex addict. Thanks to Steve McQueen's brilliant direction, we get to be a voyeur into Brandon's … more
Star Rating: Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is an addict. His drug is not heroin, cocaine, meth, or alcohol, but sex. Although he can function in social scenarios, he’s hindered by uncontrollable urges, and his only fix is to have an orgasm. He needs this many times a day just to get back up to normal. Several shots of his face throughout the film make it clear that the sensation has long since stopped giving him pleasure. One near the end, for example, … more
Anyone interested in a little more insight into this fantastic film should check out my interview with star, Michael Fassbender ... http://blacksheepreviews.blogspot.com/2011/12/aint-no-shame.html Thanks for reading!