The film ‘Shame’ is macabre portrait of a man with a crippling desire for filthy sexual encounters. The term ‘sex sells’ does not apply to the film’s appeal because of it’s raw and unsettling nature. Back in 2008, British artist Steve McQueen and Irish actor Michael Fassbender collaborated on the film “Hunger,” a haunting foray into the 1981 prison hunger strikes in Northern Ireland. But this time, the two set out to capture an emotional prison, rather than a literal one.
In “Shame,” Fassbender plays Brandon, a successful member of the corporate world with a debilitating sex addition, and his addictive pattern of hookers, porn, and street hookups is difficult to stomach.
Yet from the first frame, in which Fassbender remorsefully lies in filthy sheets, you cannot tear yourself away from the screen. The actor, who has already picked up a slew of awards for the film, is captivating. There is tremendous pain in his face that resonates even when he’s engaging in a sexual encounter.
Brandon’s addiction is disrupted by the arrival of his unstable sister Cissy (played by the brilliant Carey Mulligan). The two give a whole new meaning to the term “dysfunctional relationship.”
It seems that every word Cissy utters is a cry for help. This is especially true of the film’s most touching scene in which she sings ‘New York, New York’ and leaves her brother tear-stained. From there, Brandon’s agony begins to consume him. Despite an innocently sweet date with his coworker, Marianne (Nicole Beharie), he faces a downward spiral with little reprieve.
It may be argued that the film, which was branded with an NC-17 rating, is set to fail. In terms of cinema, America is known for having strange censorship laws. Whereas European and Latin American films portray sexuality in a manner that is honest, the US usually shuns explicit ventures and lets them fade quietly in a limited number of theaters.
As Fassbender told the Huffington Post, “Half of us have a penis and the other half has probably seen one, and so why should it be more normal to, like, chop people’s heads off and shoot people? Does that mean that that’s more acceptable or closer to us as human beings?”
I couldn’t agree more.
“Shame” is in theaters now!
By: Justine Ashley
Contributing Editor for Gossip On This