A teacher lives a lonely life, all the while struggling over his son's custody. His life slowly gets better as he finds love and receives good news from his son, but his new luck is about to be brutally shattered by an innocent little lie.
Thomas Bo Larsen,
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. Shame examines the nature of need, how we live our lives and the experiences that shape us. Written by
Steve McQueen changed the location to New York because he couldn't get the money to make the movie in the UK. See more »
The healing progress of Brandon's bruise on the cheek is completely random. Sometimes it's almost open and bloody, sometimes it's almost closed. At most only a few days pass between him receiving it and the last scene. See more »
I'm trying, I'm trying to help you.
How are you helping me, huh? How are you helping me? How are you helping me? Huh? Look at me. You come in here and you're a weight on me. Do you understand me? You're a burden. You're just dragging me down. How are you helping me? You can't even clean up after yourself. Stop playing the victim.
I'm not playing the victim. If I left, I would never hear from you again. Don't you think that's sad? Don't you think that's sad? You're my brother.
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Variatio 15 a 1 Clav. Canone alla quinta. Andante from the Goldberg Variations
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performed by Glenn Gould
Courtesy of Sony Masterworks and the Glenn Gould Estate
Licensed by Sony Music Entertainment UK Ltd See more »
Brandon seems to be successful in life: a steady job, a nice apartment, good friends and success with women. But something prevents Brandon from having a relationship that lasts more than four months, this incapacity is due to the fact that Brandon is a sex addict: to casual encounters with strangers and prostitutes, to pornography (both during and after working hours), to masturbation. And to some extent he seems to have his addiction under control, until her sister Sissy arrives unexpectedly looking for a place to live for a while.
Under this premise British director Steve McQueen delivers a fascinating character study which explores how modern life (in which new technologies play a major role), increasingly isolates people and makes them unable to establish emotional bonds with others. In the case of Brandon, a hunter in search of pleasure and not love, the arrival of his sister will make him prey of his emotions and will make him face his reality.
One aspect that has caused controversy is the way so raw and explicit to show Brandon's sexual encounters, however this becomes a necessary element, since it is through them that you can see Brandon's need and desperation as Sissy is more involved in his life. Special mention deserves the dynamics established between them, since it is fully nuanced and can even be uncomfortable to witness but is devastatingly emotional(especially in the last minutes of the story).
However, the most important element for the success of the film lies in the performances: in the hands of less committed actors Brandon and Sissy's conflicts would be unconvincing, but McQueen wisely chooses Michael Fassbender (both had previously worked together on Hunger), who literally bares body and soul to take Brandon's emotions to the limit and does it so impressively in a brave and courageous performance (and unfortunately the Academy possibly considered too intense for consideration in their nominations). Meanwhile Carey Mulligan proves to be one of the young actresses with the best prospects and acting range nowadays: her rendition of the classic song New York, New York is an utter delight as well is one of the best scenes in the film.
Shame, in the end (as in most character studies) does not seek to create empathy for the characters, but rather wants us to reflect and ask ourselves how we would react in similar situations.
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