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Reviews & Ratings for
Shame More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Grim movie about sex addiction

Author: risto-solman from Estonia
3 November 2013

It is one of those movies that will haunt you for a long time and in a positive sense where it will make you think about addictions in general. Acting was absolutely brilliant and Steve McQueen has done an excellent job at bringing so many different aspect of addicts daily problems on screen. Simply brilliant. The musical score by Harry Escott excels as well at bringing a grim and serious tone to the picture. The main character Brandon, who is portrayed by Michael Fassbender is in fact a likable and relatable character, perhaps that is one of the reasons that makes the film so compelling and hard to forget. Since there are so many people with different addictions, the movie is really relevant. The tone of the movie is serious and grim and you can feel the pain of the main protagonist as his days pass and he tries to fight his addiction. One of the best movies of past few years.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An Uncompromising Look Into the Life of A Sex Addict.

Author: CinemaClown from India
5 October 2013

From the director of Hunger comes another compelling tale which this time explores the life of a man struggling to cope up with his addiction to sex. Starring Michael Fassbender who once again delivers a solid, stunning & powerful performance in the lead character of Brandon. The movie also features Carey Mulligan as Brandon's younger sister who serves as a catalyst that turns Brandon's life upside down & completely out of control. Definitely not for everyone, this film is highly explicit & graphic in nature but that was required so that it can serve its purpose very well. Direction by Steve McQueen is top notch again and so are the performances, characterization & use of music. Shame may not be a movie for all, but its take on addiction is, arguably, the best to come out since Requiem for a Dream.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen's collaborative gem after HUNGER

Author: Jaquelin pert from cardiff
30 August 2013

First of all I have to admit I was too late about writing the review. (I saw this movie around the time of its release).

Michael Fassbender's Sex addicted and Porn addicted character was beautifully portrayed by him. (A really good performance after HUNGER).

The flaws of human being is wonderfully highlighted whether it was Fassbender or Carey Mulligan's character.

The graphic nudity and portrayal of sex was a necessity keeping in mind the topic that was dealt in the movie.

Steve McQueen has left no stones unturned in researching the character.

Fassbender has managed to give a performance that few actors can give to justify the role.

And the music was really good that matched the situation entirely. The tense scene and the scenes that showed desperate Fassbender character was aptly edited and with suitable background score.

This managed to bring out the all the actors.

I was sorry that this movie did not win many awards and get recognized.

Steve McQueen sure deserves to be awarded for his work in future.

Looking forward for more Michael Fassbender and Steve McQueen's collaborations.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream

Author: tieman64 from United Kingdom
30 November 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Steven McQueen's "Shame" stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon Sullivan, a wealthy New Yorker who finds himself increasingly addicted to both pornography and sex. Brandon's addictions also mask a larger, shameful secret. It's never explicitly revealed, but McQueen hints that Brandon and his sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan, suffered some traumatic past event which has scarred them both. This "shameful event" may be sexual abuse at the hands of an adult, an incestuous relationship between the two, some vague incident during the Irish Troubles, or perhaps even something to do with repressed homosexuality. Take your pick.

When Sissy moves into her brother's apartment, Brandon recoils. He hates all intrusion, hates intimacy, doesn't want anyone close. Why? We don't know. In psychoanalysis, sex addiction is often viewed as a dissociative defence mechanism against emotional connection, which in turn typically stems from childhood abuse or even something as mundane as a staunchly religious upbringing. So though he regularly has sexual encounters with other women, its possible that Brandon's liaisons function more as a means of staving off human connection. Sissy, in contrast, is different. She easily becomes emotionally attached and when her relationships end typically spirals into depression. Her body is littered with scars, all past suicide attempts. Late in the film, when Brandon essentially kicks Sissy out of his house, she reacts as she always has when faced with disconnection. She takes a knife to her wrists.

The film's climax involves Brandon having "gay sex" and then having an intense sexual experience with 2 women. The homosexual encounter may not point to Brandon's sexual orientation, but rather toward the extremes he is willing to go to satisfy his urges. Brandon's encounter with the 2 women functions as something else; a narcomaniacal attempt to overcompensate for and erase his shame.

Significantly, the only woman Brandon allows himself to get close to is an African American coworker who bares no resemblance to the other women (all blonde, white) he sleeps with. She does not remind him of anyone. He lets her get close. When the couple attempt to have sex Brandon recoils in fear. The couple split. The film then ends with Brandon on a train, gazing mournfully at a stranger's engagement ring. The ring points to an intimacy, a sense of connection, which he won't allow himself.

McQueen's previous film, "Hunger", dealt with the IRA, Catholic guilt and Christian martyrdom. There a character, again played by Fassbender, goes on a hunger strike and, Christ-like, absorbs punishment so that others may live free. "Shame" likewise features an Irish Catholic berating himself, only here Brandon internalises his guilt, holding himself to a celestial standard and then hating himself for it. The film's "Raging Bull", only with sex replacing left hooks and bedrooms replacing boxing rings.

But "Shame" and "Hunger" differ in significant ways. Where "Hunger" was all prison-cells and impoverished locales, "Shame" dwells in the affluence of New York City, in which everything is permissible and every boundary begs to be transgressed. Both films are obsessed with bodies, flesh and private suffering, but where "Hunger" features Fassbender turning his body into a sword, a weapon, forsaking eating in order to spur a certain freedom, "Shame" finds Fassbender in the land of the "free" yet trapped in a prison of flesh. One film's about abstinence, the controlling of urges, the other's about excess, indulgence and urges which enslave.

In this way "Shame" is unintentionally about a certain high-end, technocapitalist culture. New York isn't portrayed here as your usual Big Apple, but rather as a cesspool of greed, overconsumption, loveless sexuality, alienation, addiction and shady business operations. It's a city teeming with what philosopher Marc Auge calls "non places", anonymous and interchangeable zones of transit. McQueen reduces the city to both outposts of digitised finance capitalism, and locales where sex is packaged, traded and sold. Sexual content is everywhere. When Brandon has sex with a stranger on the lid of a dumpster, the F word is written in graffiti as though the site's a city-designated station. Elsewhere the film's characters repeatedly liken "success" and "profit" to "nailing it", sex and business acumen conflated. But it's not only that capitalism has changed our morals, but, and this is true even on a neurochemical level, that it has fundamentally amputated imagination and changed how we respond to desire. Brandon wants explicit, reductive sex, and the messy mysteries/personalities of human beings constitute something too traumatic to even consider. When his sister sings "Empire State of Mind" at a club, a song about New York being a city in which "dreams come true", it's clear that Brandon has, in a sense, made a Faustian Bargain with the city, suspending all ethical judgement for the privilege of incessant and increasingly escalating chemical highs. Sissy's song points to an apocalyptic human future, a future in which "genuine" love and a sustaining emotional community seem impossible. Of course in actuality such a stance is itself too one note: capitalism readily co-cops everything and so willingly propagates traditional values ("love", "romance", "marriage", "intimacy", "empathy" etc), even as its logic does the opposite. While humans are becoming hyper-sexual and "masculinized" (kids watching violent hardcore pornography etc), they're also becoming increasingly "feminized" (compassionate, empathetic, emotionally sensitive etc). This leads to contradictory personalities far more disturbing than a gargoyle like Brandon.

"Shame's" aesthetic is cold and disturbing, McQueen turning us into shameful voyeurs and using repetition to highlight Brandon's insatiable appetite. Elsewhere it recalls "Last Tango in Paris", personalises at the expense of the social/cultural, and unintentionally portrays sex addiction as a glittery affliction, in which the sufferers are finely tuned predators, wealthy, glamorous, STD free, perfectly chiselled, well endowed, toned and with ready access to a city of women.

7.9/10 – Worth one viewing. See "Thanks for Sharing".

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A Quiet Classic

Author: phantlers from United Kingdom
21 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I enjoyed the extended commentary in the form of printed word placement on screen from advertisements, street signs, graffiti or newspaper headlines, wherein lies some humour and irony. Similarly, the epiphany towards the end when Brandon realises the truth of what Sissy has said about the value of their relationship and its importance for each of them. For me, this is the shame of the title, his realisation of how he may have betrayed the essential values (and people, including himself) in his life for the superficial or the artifice, as represented by placing sex before love. There's a nagging thought that the title may also echo a reference to an imagined incestuous act that never occurs but which may well have been anticipated by an audience teased by the trailer and synopsis, perhaps another joke by the director.

There is much allegory here, in what is a deeply layered tale - something about the superficiality of thrill-seeking and the worthlessness of placing the immediate satisfaction brought by feeding an insatiable craving over nurturing a relationship that may become more lasting and worthwhile.

I'm not convinced Brandon has a 'sex addiction' per se, as is widely supposed, so much as a compulsion to seek out the immediate thrill of an orgasm, something closer to an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder than an 'addiction'.

Sure, I may have over-thought this a little and perhaps this belongs in a discussion rather than a review but that's how the film - and its superbly atmospheric soundtrack - moved me.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An excellent film. Probably the best about addiction since Requiem for a Dream.

Author: TheMovieSnob247 from Toronto, Canada
17 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shame is a film about addiction. This is uncompromising in that it doesn't pull any changes, it shows the raw sadness, helplessness and shame of addiction. I loved the first 15 minutes of the film, as right away the director sets the tone for what's to come with a really solid opening. It was powerful and had an excellent score throughout (as does the rest of the film). It seems almost impossible for New York to feel lonely, but Steve McQueen portrays this brilliantly. As Brandon leads this empty, lonely life, the city seems to mirror him in every way, great directing.

Brandon is sex a addict of the worst kind. It consumes his life in every respect. Intimacy doesn't appeal to him on any level. He spends his every waking moment thinking of sex. So much so in an early scene you see him simply undress a woman on the subway (even after seeing that she is married). He knows that he's sick, but he just can't help himself, the addiction is just really hard for him to overcome and he leads an empty life. When his troubled sister (Mulligan) visits and seeks some sort of emotional support from him, he's incapable of showing her any.

On a night when she is really suffering and is literally begging him to help, he ignores her and goes out in the night looking for sex just about any way he can. His cold and uncaring approach to his sister leads her to make a horrible decision. The sheer shame of this forces Brandon to realize with how far he's fallen in a scene that is one of the best I saw last year, hands down.

Later you see Brandon on the same subway, caught in a gaze with the same woman he stared at so intently before. Except now you can see the struggle in his face, how hard he's trying to fight the urge to pursue her. It really is a heart breaking scene from Fassbender. You don't really know what happens, but maybe McQueen just wants you to remember the character's struggle and it's a fitting scene to underscore the film.

This isn't for everyone. There are explicit scenes and it's fairly disturbing, but I don't know how you make a good movie about sex addiction without that; so it's not to the film's detriment. Excellent performances from both Fassbender and Mulligan. Fassbender's Brandon is desperate, repulsive and eventually sympathetic; he has some very compelling scenes and the nominations he was getting for the role were warranted. However I was disappointed this film was more or less ignored during awards season.

I think this is an important film to see and is highly recommended.


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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Shame is the title but is it really the crux of it?

Author: laura_macleod from United Kingdom
14 February 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

There are stories that are about life and all the aspects of life itself and then there are stories that are less like stories and more like studies of people and psychological issues.These kinds of films often leave the viewer with a sense of loss - precisely what Shame does - it brings the viewer into the depth of severe psychological disturbance in two particular individuals and makes one feel the loss that is consuming these people. Brother and sister; obviously victims of sex abuse in childhood of some order - and their current lives and dysfunction. Fassbender plays a man off the scale with severe emotional trauma that manifests itself in constant sex addiction - he is in break down. His sister, played by Mulligan is also in breakdown - the interesting family dynamic that is seen between siblings in abuse cases - they love/hate each other and are left to do the parenting which can never work. Some viewers will find the cold hearted sex scenes at time repetitive and indeed they are. But McQueen is clever in that he brings the viewer on a journey to see the severity of the addiction and all the forms it manifests in - leaving the protagonist tortured, exhausted and haunted. The added burden he takes on, is wanting to be the protector of his sister and then rejecting it - obviously he failed in protecting her in childhood and it still remained in the form of guilt. Often dysfunctional parents do a very heinous crime, in that they project on the children they are abusing ,that it is their fault - thus the long journey to break away and the healing process to even begin. Shame and guilt are heavy barriers in healing. Fassbender's performance is mesmerising. He deserves an award for it. It takes one to the heart of addiction and emotional dysfunction. The end of the film is ambiguous - did he break the cycle or didn't he? Society lends itself to sex and sexual abuse and addiction - on some level we are all obsessed with sex and it passes us by because we are not 'addicts'. The addict can find the outlet easily in modern society as it lends itself to all the vices and pain - but not readily does it lend itself to love. The sense of loss at the end of the film comes to the viewer as it is not clear if the protagonists made it through the darkness to the love that was obviously there in them too, waiting past the trauma and past the addiction.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Empty vessel.

Author: raimund-berger from Switzerland
15 September 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers ahead.

We're following Brandon, an Irishman living and working in NYC, who's suffering from an obsession with casual sex while living an otherwise isolated and dull life. Of course, crisis is lingering below the horizon and materializes when his sister moves in. She catches him masturbating (no joke), which prompts him to make a halfhearted attempt at changing his life. Why? We'll never know, but are presumably expected to guess that he felt some "shame" at that point. He's still throwing her out though, to which his sister, who's having a couple of never explained issues of her own, responds with a suicide attempt. Brandon luckily saves her, but does this incident change anything in their lives? Again, no answer - open ending, case closed.

Point is, this is a typical "all style and little substance" film. Mixing fairly explicit and extensive sex scenes with long subway ride montages and tracking shots through nightly NY streets, accompanied by either an overly dramatic music score or Bach piano music, depending on which it is. Do we learn anything about how Brandon arrived where he is though? No. Does he ever talk about what's going on with him? No. In fact, the minimalistic dialog we're presented with barely supports those few moments of rather formulaic human interaction the film has to offer.

At the same time is NYC reduced to a gloomy and depressing place where everybody's just being concerned with themselves. And those few characters we meet - mostly colleagues - aren't really any better than Brandon. To the point actually of the entire film not showing us a single healthy relationship. Why this one sided view, one might wonder. Possible answers: the film wants to portrait Brandon as just another facet of a similarly messed up environment. Or it wants to portray Brandon against a kaput background so that we can still sympathize with him. Your pick.

In the end there's really just a string of shots accompanied by music. Impressions, if you will, loosely glued together by a storyline thin enough to fall apart once you're looking at it. Why this movie was made? No clue. Maybe a showcase for the 50 funny faces Fassbender can make?

Still 4 points though. For all that it's lacking the movie's style admittedly is effective. If it just led somewhere.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

painfully true

Author: dr mies from Netherlands
15 June 2012

A view in the world, seen for real, how diverse the human mind can be, can become because of your past, broken but still in function, a mask. The masks we all wear are just a facade, the real people do not judge each other for they know we all have our flaws.

This movie shows a few of them, michael is truly great in showing how the search for feeling can be hidden in sex. Carey a rising star in my opinion, you got to love her, desperately seeking carey in this movie, not finding it and yet finding it with the only one she got left.

The real message lies in the fact that michael does not say much while there is so much he could say, this is the not judging in words, we should all be doing this more often, to speak with the words of a wise man, to fist see the beam in your own eye before you see the splinter in someone elses eye. There always so much judging, comments and joke that are so painful. this movie shows how they can be left out, how nice the world can be in that way.

one to watch if you are ready for a view on real life of broken people.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Fascinating exploration of a relatively unexplored subject matter

Author: tomgillespie2002 from United Kingdom
6 May 2012

The idea of sexual addiction has, at least up to now, been viewed by most as a pathetic way for celebrities to justify their debauchery and sleazy activities. It has never been given a serious portrayal in film (not that I can see remember), but this has not stopped director Steve McQueen tackling the subject in his second feature, after 2008's quite sensational Hunger. He approaches the subject head-on, and rather than trying to investigate what causes the problem, he instead shows it for what it is, personified in Michael Fassbender's emotionally damaged Brandon.

Unknown to the people who claim to know him, Brandon has a seemingly high-paid office job and an ocean-view apartment. This life of emotional distance helps him to indulge in his sexual addiction, where prostitutes, online porn, bar pick-ups, and daytime wanks-at-work provide temporary relief for his ever-growing sexual urges. His life of routine is rudely interrupted with the arrival of his equally damaged sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who throws Brandon's life upside down. At first the two seem to get on, but after Sissy sleeps with Brandon's boss David (James Badge Dale), and then catches Brandon masturbating, his once-private affliction is revealed.

Similar to Hunger, Steve McQueen takes a very artistic approach, breaking the film up with long moments of silence and panning shots, and in one bravura sequence, the camera follows a raging Brandon as he jogs through the New York night, as the neon-lit city opens up before him. Yet it's the character development and the truly exceptional lead performance by Fassbender that makes the film, as given that Brandon is really quite an unlikeable character, in Fassbender's hands he is sympathetic and tragic, and McQueen's and Abi Morgan's script make him a fully-realised, and utterly fascinating character.

It would be easy to make Brandon one-dimensional, but as the film goes on, we learn more about him. He fantasises about office colleague Marianne (Nicole Beharie) and the two go out on a dinner date. Brandon talks about his inability to understand or maintain a relationship, which perplexes Marianne, yet the two still seem to hit if off. Later, on a second date, the two are tearing each others clothes off, when Brandon seems to look her meaningfully in the eyes, but he is unable to sustain an erection. He tells her to leave, then in the next scene, and not long after his encounter with Marianne, he is having hard sex with a prostitute up against the window. It is clear that any idea of anything remotely meaningful terrifies Brandon, and therefore turns him off.

Sissy is equally as intriguing, but is given much less screen time. Her encounter with the truly loathsome David reveals that something happened in the past, possibly involving both siblings, yet like Brandon, Sissy reveals nothing. Mulligan has already established herself as an effective actress, but her character serves more as a way to develop Brandon, who is in every scene. The two siblings' backgrounds are not revealed so we are left to guess how to the two have become so damaged, but the film is much more effective this way. It can be a hard watch at times, but Shame is a fascinating exploration of a relatively unexplored subject matter.

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