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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Long, Deliberate, Involving.

Author: Robert J. Maxwell ( from Deming, New Mexico, USA
21 February 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Fassbender, a relatively well-off office worker, has two problems. He is, as all the ads put it, "addicted to sex," whatever that means. And he has a sister, Carey Mulligan, a sloppy but unrepressed night club singer, who has come to New York and wants to stay in his apartment.

I can't possibly go into all the plot details because it isn't a short movie and, although sluggishly paced, is full of details. The details are mostly of the "ordinary life" variety. Some of the shots almost seem "stolen." If a couple has dinner in a restaurant for the first time, the camera sits there and watches more patiently than the viewer as they trade suggestions about what meal to order and what wine they should have, and then we watch the waiter pour water into their glasses, go through his spiel about today's specials, take their order, leave, and come back later with the wine, which he pours for tasting into the patriarchal glass, and Fassbender tells him to "pour it." Then the waiter pours it.

There's an abundance of nudity and some sex but it's hardly more stimulating than watching the waiter pour the cabernet. We get the picture early on of Fassbender's attraction to sex. It's not surprising that he's attracted but it seems to come in all forms -- masturbation, the internet, stroke magazines, a gay bar, humping in alleys, threesomes. It gets him into a bit of trouble at work, as it should, because after all man doth not live on broad alone. The guy's sex life evoke's Errol Flynn's -- a good thing there were no pine fences with knothole around.

His sister is a different story. She's promiscuous but not shy about it, not all pent up about it, not about to explode like a ripe zit. Fassbender has constructed a kind of cocoon for himself in the city. His life is all arranged. And her arrival disrupts his tidiness. His life loses its metric quality. I mean, here she is, boffing her boy friend loudly in Fassbender's own bed, and the boy friend is Fassbender's boss. Lamentably, Fassbender doesn't quite get to pick up a cute young woman he flirts with on a train -- Jennifer Butler who looks sweet and innocent through her flattered smile, and who resembles Naomi Watts.

Clearly, a good deal of thought went into this film and it's an intelligent drama that doesn't spell everything out for the viewer. But it's also relentlessly sad, at least until the end, when we're left with a little hope that Fassbender's vision has been broadened a little by the acts of others. Overall, though, torpid.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Shame - a story of human despair and flight

Author: rehams from Denmark
12 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Shame is a movie about sex addiction or so it would seem. I feel like the people giving this film poor reviews are not able to look past the main character's actions - or rather - they're not able to emphasize with Michael Fassbenders role, the lonely, sad man on a constant quest to numb his mind and forget his past.

Much has been said at the explicit sex scenes. They're not really worse or better than many European films, but may shock the American audience more used to seeing graphic and indulgent violence than nudity. The sex scenes are needed to tell the story like the graphic depictions of drug abuse in Trainspotting.

Addiction is too often dealt with on the basis of its subject whether drugs or in this case sex. But behind the addiction is almost always emotional trauma, from which the addicted person finds escape with his or hers drug of choice.

In Shame, the drug of choice is sex. Michael Fassbender plays a typical New York yuppie who'se life consists of keeping up appearances until he can get his sexual release through internet porn, cam models, bathroom masturbation, prostitutes or women he picks up in bars, on the street or in his work.

A main point of criticism seems to be a lack of plot. That misses the point completely. This is not a feel good fairy tale Hollywood flick, but a snapshot in time of the life of the main character, the films crescendo being his estranged sister showing up unannounced, which hints at the possibility of redemption for both he and his sister, but alas, this remains untold at the end.

The relationship with his sister is the clue to understanding the title of film in my opinion. While the shame referred to in the title seems to be generally accepted as the feeling of shame that the main character feels with his addiction, it's also more than alluded that there's a history, a dark secret between the brother and the sister. When his sister crawls into bed with him, when she barges in on him being nude, presses her naked body against his, it's impossible to ignore the hint at incest or abuse in their common past. It's best described when she tells him over the telephone 'We're not bad people, we just come from a bad place'.

Both are deeply troubled individuals, both seem to try and cope with hurt and trauma, both clearly damaged people. He through addiction to sex, she with repeated suicide attempts. What exactly in the past that makes them feel shame is never told.

In the end, Shame is an excellent and touching film, devoid of external displays of emotion, absent any warmth, but steaming with emotion just under the surface like a pressure cooker waiting to explode.

To not like this film, is to not be willing to put yourself in the shoes of another human being. Watch this film with an open mind and be one experience richer.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: dario_malic from Croatia
1 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Shame", a new film by British director and screenwriter Steve McQueen tells the story of a troubled young man struggling with himself in a big city. Brandon is in his mid-thirties. He has a boring but probably pretty safe job in some office, the nature of his work not being relevant. He's a lonely guy. The only two persons in his life are his sister, who comes from out of town with no place to stay and is as troubled as he is, and his wife-cheating boss, who gets drunk and sleeps with his sister. Brandon is a sex addict. He spends every available moment masturbating or having sex with whomever he can. The problem is he doesn't enjoy it. It's a pain and torture to him, almost as if he's punishing himself for something.

As you can see it's a very simple plot and the movie avoids any kind of exaggeration in depicting it. It's deemed controversial because of its many sex scenes and some probably consider it vulgar and excessive because of that, but the sex is necessary to tell the story and the movie is one of the most realistic that I've ever seen. What director concentrates on are the thoughts and emotions of the characters (mostly Brandon and his sister Sissy) and that's what carries the movie and keeps you involved. McQueen has done a great job both directing and writing this movie. He has provided the actors with an opportunity to display all their skill and they've done it masterfully. Both Michael Fassbender as Brandon and Carey Mulligan as Sissy gave fantastic performances, with their faces as the main tool for expressing all the sadness, fear, anger and loneliness of their characters. That can especially be seen when Sissy sings a melancholy version of "New York, New York" or when Brandon has sex with two women near the end of the movie (this scene even gives a feeling of horror). The other few actors that are appearing in the movie do a good job, but the emphasis is on Mulligan's and especially Fassbender's performance.

Beside the work done by McQueen, Fassbender and Mulligan, there are two more important elements which make the film as good as it is. Sean Bobbitt's cinematography makes a fantastic job showing us loneliness and despair of the main characters through every frame, and Harry Escott's music evokes the sadness and melancholy which make us feel their pain and empathize with them. I should also point out the scenes of sex which are greatly filmed and yet lack the ability to arouse. Instead, they just deepen the prevailing feeling of hopelessness.

Whoever talks about this movie points out Brandon as a sex addict. I'm not sure what would be a definition of a sex addict but I think there's something else we should focus out attention to here. At one point Brandon goes on a date with his colleague Marianne. A proper first date with walking, dinner, talk about relationships and a promise of a second one. It's the only time we see Brandon genuinely having fun. I think he's even happy and looking forward to the second date. But when it comes, all is ruined. Brandon can't have sex with Marianne. He can't get his penis hard which causes him to break and he lets her go. Here is revealed his inability to establish a normal relationship. Is it a consequence of his sex addiction or maybe a cause of it we don't know, but it's the most tragic thing about him.

The title "Shame" is ambiguous, showing us all the complexity of the movie within itself. There is disgrace in Brandon's way of life, embarrassment he feels about it, and pity we feel for him. But there is even more to it. Because it's not just about Brandon. It's about all of us, trying to escape from our troubles in all the wrong ways and losing ourselves in the process, which seems to happen more often as time goes by. And that really is a shame.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

for cinematic fans a must see

Author: pollyonline77 from Netherlands
21 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It has been two hours ago since I watched this movie, and it still got me. Usual watching a movie, if things go too rough, you escape to reality, oh yes it is just a movie, the suffering ain't real. In this movie you will be sucked in. You can't escape. -my personal experience- It is genius. You really feel with the characters, it makes you a powerless bystander. You wanna help, step in, but you can't. You are delivered to the mercy of the director. A must see for the real movie lovers. The colors, the lighting, the acting, it is just perfect. In the European version there are some nudity and sex scenes in it, but in my opinion, it suits the movie. I agree with other reviews saying that everything on his addiction just match, this is exactly how an addict behaves. The poor guy just turned into a zombie. Amazing, I am still impressed. I just hope and pray, that I will never fall that deep.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Whether you love it or hate it... hats off to McQueen!

Author: Manal S. from Egypt
13 April 2012

It's official: Steve McQueen (Hunger) is the most artistic director in the movie business nowadays. If you don't know what that means, go ahead and watch one of his movies. McQueen is capable of stripping any concept, character or event down to its core and present it in its raw state, leaving the viewer with a condensed emotional experience. If you have already seen Hunger, you will understand what I mean; his portrayal of Bobby Sands' final days was anything but political. It was truly impartial and universal.

Before watching Shame, I read a number of reviews accusing McQueen of pointlessness and asking the same question "What is he trying to say?!" Well, I don't understand why a movie should try to say anything! A movie, or any other form of artistic expression, is not supposed to teach or preach but simply show in a different way. In Shame, McQueen does not tackle the thorny issue of sexual addiction to dig for solutions or show sympathy, he just presents a purely unadorned human experience and leaves the rest to the viewer whether to sympathize, judge or even criticize. I've described McQueen as an artist because this is what he is. His ability to capture such emotional intensity without giving much information about the characters' past (and even present!) is pure genius. He is like a painter who depicts anonymous people with no attachment to time or place. This is not an easy job for both McQueen, as a director, and his viewers because they will feel obliged to infer meaning from this beautifully painted portrait to be able to explain the heavy emotional power it discharges.

Another accusation leveled against McQueen is the heavy sexual content in the movie. Well, to be honest, I can't disagree with that. The movie is laden with too many unnecessarily explicit scenes. However, They are far from being erotic. Actually, some of them helped in showing the emotional turmoil Brandon is going through.

Brandon, played by Michael Fassbender, is a sex addict who shuns away his suicidal and emotionally clingy sister (Carey Mulligan) because of a certain childhood traumatic experience they both suffered from, and that was never mentioned in the story line. I saw Fassbender in many movies before, but his role in Shame is by far his best. I guess I've said the same about his role in Hunger. Apparently, McQueen knows how to bring out the best in Fassbender. The fact that his performance in Shame was snubbed by the Academy and didn't even get an Oscar nomination remains a wonder to me! Carey Mulligan also was at her best, there was always something fragile and delicate about her character and she managed to show that perfectly.

Typically McQueen, Shame is a love-it-or-hate-it movie. You will either fall in love with it or ruthlessly slash it. In both cases, it's worth it. Hats off to McQueen.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:


Author: For_the_love_of_cinema from India
13 April 2012

"Shame", directed by Steve McQueen, transcends boundaries by conveying to the audience the life of a man coping with sex addiction. Brandon Sullivan, played by Michael Fassbender, seems like a normal man to the people around him, with a cozy apartment and a corporate job. However, as the audience, you're pulled into his dark world right from the start and you realize that his life is far from normal. Brandon, being a sex addict, frequently engages in hook-ups with prostitutes and the like, until one day, his life is disrupt by the unexpected arrival of his sister Sissy, played by Carey Mulligan.

The film is top-notch with excellent direction, flawless cinematography, outstanding editing and remarkable acting. Fassbender gives us the best performance of his career with his portrayal as a man struggling to find his way through the sexual urges and the guilt he has to live with everyday. It's beyond me how he didn't pick up an Oscar nod for his performance. And Carey Mulligan is flawless, as always. The woman has made a name for herself in the film industry in such a short span of time, giving us quite a number of memorable performances. The music is also worth special mention as it fits the theme of the film so well, that it leaves a mark on you and reminds you how music can add so much depth and intensity to a film. Kudos to everyone involved in the film.

What bothers me is that the film was snubbed by the Academy. Is the Academy so old-school that it can't deal with a film about sex addiction in the 21st century? I suppose so. The NC-17 rating probably didn't help either. But that's the thing about true cinema – it forces you to look beyond the sex, nudity and vulgarity and makes you admire something that's both right in front of you and beneath the surface. That's exactly what Shame does. And it works.

Bottomline: "Shame" is an intense, gripping, raw, emotional, disturbing and haunting masterpiece. The film may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate the true meaning of cinema, it certainly won't disappoint.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Utterly brilliant

Author: emeraldorc from United Kingdom
12 April 2012

I rarely review movies, so you won't get any 'critic speak' from me just a simple review of what I think is the best individual performance of an actor since Will Smith in 'I am Legend'.

Michael Fassbender really showcases his talent as an actor and he really gave this movie meaning. Every single sex scene helped you understand what the character was going through. I have to admit I first thought all this movie would be about was tacky sex scenes trying to highlight a problem that some people will say isn't a problem.

This film really gave me an insight into the painful world of a sex addict and I kid you not, it is full of sadness. I think everyone should watch this film and it has certainly raised my awareness of the problem.

The scene at the end made me think, is the director Steve Mcqueen trying to say women also suffer from this or simply just a continuation of a habit hard to kill?

All in all this is a 5 star for me.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

If I didn't like this film, an appropriate quip could be ''What a shame''. But, that's not the case.

Author: greg-kelly from Australia
15 February 2012

While waiting in queue for this film, an elderly Indian couple asked my girlfriend and I what films were worth watching. I replied ''We're going to see Shame.'' I don't know if that answered their question, but they continued and asked me what it was about. ''A sex addict''. They gave me a blank stare, however, I saw them in the theatre soon after. About half way through, when our protagonist is having sex with a woman against a hotel window, the elderly Indian couple walked out.

Personally, by this time, I was enthralled. That's the nature of this beast, it's about a sex addict, so there's going to be a lot of sex, and with that, comes nudity.

That's not all the film has to offer though, oh god no. The internal struggle of someone dealing with an addiction, their relationships with friends, family and work colleagues, hints of a troubled past, and life changing consequences are all at play.

A smart script, dedicated acting and film making that is set to simmer, then boil, makes this the perfect film to watch in a lowly lit hotel room, slightly sedated, while feeling sorry for yourself.

Or, a theatre, as long as you're not a particular elderly Indian couple.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Didn't like it - apologies to the masses

Author: bowmanblue from United Kingdom
28 April 2015

After watching Shame - a story about a man suffering from 'sex addiction - I was about to write a scathing review, reflecting just how dull I thought the film was, when I saw the other reviews.

Apparently it's some sort of poignant masterpiece.

I guess I just didn't get it.

Maybe I'm too used to car chases and giant robots levelling cities, but whatever everyone else saw here just didn't reach me.

I guess I'm in the minority, so if you're thinking of watching Shame, all those saying how deep and meaningful it was can't really be wrong.

I just thought it was boring. It opens with an overhead shot of Michael Fassbender in bed and the camera just stays on him lying there for a whole minute. I had to check I hadn't accidentally paused the DVD by mistake. That's a taste of things to come. There's not as much dialogue as you'd expect from a film. Many scenes are just him looking at someone. Then they look back. Then they look away. Repeat for several minutes. Then there was the singing and the jogging scenes. I ended up fast forwarding them.

Anyway, I've slated this masterpiece for long enough.

Most people liked it. I didn't. I guess that means you should probably watch it and leave me to watch Resident Evil 8 or whatever rot I'm currently enjoying.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

If you like talentless art, you'll love this

Author: Michael UK from United Kingdom
2 November 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well now. There's a class of "art" that some people who probably see themselves as sophisticated idolise. My favourite example was the famous (at least here in the UK) "My bed" by Tracey Emin. Said bed was her own: dirty and unmade, complete with used condoms and bloodied underwear. I watched on telly as it was extolled by the usual faux intellectuals, and could only roll my eyes and sigh.

I've seen films about sad, hurt people obsessed by sex; and one or two of them are actually very good, such as "Sex, Lies and Videotape". But you see, films like that don't dispense with essentials like a decent script and some faint glimmer of the possibility of redemption; not to mention at least something to empathise with in the characters, even if they are badly flawed.

However, we are granted no such saving graces with this film. We have no idea of the back story; have no idea why the central character is like he is, what's the deal with his sister, and frankly, don't care much anyway. Are we supposed to be titillated by the nudity, with the sight of Fassbender licking the rear end of a whore (one of a pair he's having a 3-way with)? Or screwing from behind, against the window of a hotel room in broad daylight, another naked whore? Or are we supposed to be disgusted by such scenes? Who the hell knows? And frankly, my dear, I didn't give a damn.

The lowest score I can give is 1; I've given it 2 because the cinematography isn't that bad, and I suppose Fassbender did the best anyone could with the part. To actually like this film, I suspect I'd have to feel at least as alienated as its director and joint script writer, Steve McQueen, obviously did. I'm truly glad that even in my darkest moments, I always seem to retain a little faith in the humanity of my species.

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