Shame is a realistic, unflinching depiction of a sex addict’s spiral out of control. It is intense and almost hard to watch. I would worry if someone found the sex scenes erotic or exciting because it is actually painful and disturbing to see this man unable to conquer his demons.
Writer/Director Steve McQueen does a wonderful job of telling his story truthfully. He has taken out all the romance associated with casual sex. It is raw. It is ugly. It is everywhere. It makes you think about society’s hypocrisy. What is acceptable? Adultery? One night stands? And what is deviant behavior? Porn? Masturbation? There is a line and at times it is hard to differentiate. There are some very interesting juxtapositions that are explored quite subtly.
I also loved the way McQueen incorporated the city of New York–it is an important character in this film. The city helps facilitate the sexual addiction, with its constant accessibility and ends up contributing to the protagonist’s ever-growing shame.
But this film belongs to Michael Fassbender (who continues to earn my fascination with him). He is truly amazing. It is a daring performance not to be missed. What he is able to do with mere glances and physical expression is stunning. WOW! Add Carey Mulligan (who is quickly becoming one the finest actresses of her generation) and you have powerful duo. She is almost unrecognizable–and not because of anything externally–but because she transforms into this character so thoroughly you can not see any other traces of what we have seen from her. Bravo!
I do not want to delve into the narrative–I like that the trailer gives you a glimpse into the world and you get a feeling for the style of the film without revealing too much. It did earn a NC-17 rating and is showing on limited screens–but if you want to go on emotional journey that will make you talk about sex and our notions about it–then find it and check it out!