Shame (2011) Poster

(2011)

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9/10
Actions Speak Louder than Words
coolnazgul14 December 2011
I am truly shocked by the people criticizing this film for lack of substance. I've seen comments about how there is limited dialogue, and therefore no character development, and hardly any story. Did we watch the same film? I'm thinking we must not have.

Shame dives into the life of a man living with an addiction to sex. The first 10 minutes of this movie effectively introduces him, his addiction, his relationship with humanity (sister included), and barely uses any words to do so. You shouldn't need a lot of dialogue when emotions are conveyed with facial expressions, effective cinematography, and great editing. This film is loaded with all of that.

Obviously films are subjective, but I feel those who say they didn't get to "know' the characters at all must always need everything spoon fed to them. I am not a sex addict, but still connected with both Fassbender and Mulligan. I found the development both subtle and extremely realistic. Does everything need to always have that Hollywood ending? Should everything get wrapped up nicely and leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling when you walk out of the theater? I definitely don't think so.

Anybody who does need that probably shouldn't watch any Steve McQueen films. Anyone who can appreciate a raw, subtle, and beautifully made film should go watch Shame.
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10/10
Addiction up close and personal
moviemanMA15 January 2012
Shame, the real feel bad movie of the year, is only McQueen's second feature film to date. His first film, Hunger, focused on a man who made his life very public when he went on a hunger strike during the 1981 Irish Hunger Strikes. In Shame, McQueen dissects the very personal and often shocking sexual addiction of Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender). Brandon is a well off business man. He has an apartment in New York where he leads a seemingly good life, but hides a dark secret that is on the verge of destroying him. His sex addiction has gone out of control. To make this even more difficult, his sister drops in unexpected and crashes at his place (played by Carey Mulligan). Her lifestyle begins to interfere with his addiction, forcing him to take drastic measures.

Every waking moment is spent towards achieving one goal: orgasm. We see him smile, laugh, engage socially, but when he is alone he is focused, like a junkie going through the routine of drug addiction. Brandon's tools aren't lighters, spoons, and rubber ties. He uses prostitutes, Internet pornography, magazines, or his imagination. Even at work his mind wanders off, either at a passing coworker or something he has looked up on his computer. This is far from a private matter. His addiction is slipping into the open and he knows it. We assume he is aware of his problem. At the beginning of the film we see Brandon lying naked in bed, the sheet pulled over his private area. He lies motionless, only staring at the ceiling above, breathing in and out as if he knows that today is going to be a long day. We know he's not thinking about work. He has one thing and one thing only. Sex.

Most people associate sex with pleasure. I'm sure Brandon has at one time or another had a pleasurable experience during intercourse, but he is long past that stage. During a scene on the subway he spots a woman. She's an attractive woman. She's alone. Vulnerable. She eyes Brandon staring back at her. The two have chemistry. In silence they are mentally engaging each other. His stare never wavers, he just scans her up and down. Suddenly her face changes. She gets up, showing the audience her wedding band. We can feel her shame for flirting with Brandon. He gets up and stands behind her. He follows her out of the train only to lose her in the crowd. His disappointment isn't so much in relation to not getting to know her, but that he will have to continue his search for sex elsewhere.

Brandon is a tragic character. His only connection with people is linked with sex. How will this person help or interfere with me reaching my goal of orgasm? Brandon's limit's knows no bounds. Fassbender, who also appeared in McQueen's Hunger, gives a fascinating performance. It is fearless both in the sense that it is a physically challenging role and that he accomplishes the role with such honesty. He could have played it like some debonair businessman just looking to score. Fassbender knows that his character is truly disturbed. He knows that if people found out about his condition he would be ostracized. He also knows that he needs help and won't get it. All of these factors come into play and create an incredible performance. Much like Gosling pulled off in Drive, Fassbender uses his eyes and body language to express how he feels.

Pain is a word often associated with addiction. We see videos of addicts going through withdrawals in health class. They kick, scream, shake, vomit. Evidence of a sickness in the body. Fassbender's character also shows great pain and uneasiness. During times of sheer euphoria, at least for a normal person, Fassbender gives us pain and suffering. He can't help what he's doing but he needs it to stay normal.

Along with Fassbender is Mulligan, another one of today's rising stars. Her character is rebellious, dependent, and loving. She wants nothing more than to find someone to care for her and to spend time with her brother. Her brother is too involved with his addiction and her taste in men and willingness to fall in love with them brings her down even more. She plays a girl on the edge of a breakdown and really shines on screen. Like Fassbender, she gives her all for the role, exposing her true colors.

In just two films McQueen has established himself as a major player in the art house scene. Both films are festival favorites with critical praise, but the general public isn't ready for his heavy storytelling. With hope (and some financial backing) he will continue to make the films he wants to make and hopefully garner enough praise here in the states to win over more of the public. It's going to be hard if he keeps getting NC-17 ratings.
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8/10
An expertly crafted and shocking film that will divide audiences
DonFishies24 September 2011
Despite having never seen Steve McQueen's Hunger, the smouldering and sensational acclaim for Shame was simply unreal. Having heard terrific things about the film, I ventured out and snagged a last minute ticket to the premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Weeks later, I am still trying to decipher what may be one of the most shocking and raw films I have seen in quite some time.

The titular Shame in question is what Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a posh yuppie living in New York City, must live with every day. He is a sex addict, and his addiction knows no bounds. His estranged sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) has also just dropped by his apartment for an extended stay, making things all the worse.

The plot may not sound like much, because there really is not all that much to it storywise. Shame is more of a portrait of a man struggling with his inner demons than it is anything else. There is a story at its very core, but the primary focus is always on Brandon, his addiction and what boundaries and limits it pushes him to. I had read about some of the more "unconventional" and decidedly non-mainstream sexual escapades (for lack of a better word) Brandon gets himself into, but I was still incredibly surprised and downright shocked by just how far McQueen goes with this character. He is brazen and uninhibited in what he shows on screen, bravely defying the conventions of what we typically can and cannot see in mainstream cinema. McQueen does not shy away from hard truths, and does not even try to mask the explicit nature of some of the sexual acts. Seeing how far Brandon will go to satisfy and suppress himself is simply harrowing, not unlike films like Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream were with their characters' drug addictions.

While the film and its frank depiction of sexuality are sometimes difficult to watch, I found myself mesmerized by the choreography and cinematography at play throughout. McQueen frames the film with the audience in the position of a voyeur. Early on, we see Brandon's morning routine, featuring Fassbender roaming around his chic apartment totally naked. We see him at his most honest and his most vulnerable, a man who is unable to hide the truth about himself. Later, we watch him as he interacts with his office co-workers from behind huge glass windows, and from a table across from him at a restaurant while he is on a date. McQueen uses a lot of unbroken shots to help depict this slice of Brandon's life through tracking shots and an immense amount of long shots. They help set the very somber mood, and allow the audience to continue watching as if they were an actual character peering into the events that transpire for him. McQueen also expertly uses music to help dictate the action on screen, tearing away the dialogue or sounds of the scene. It makes for an awkward feeling, but one that evokes a response with every new scene.

But for all of the shock and audacity, McQueen still managed to make a deeply troubled film that leaves a lot unsaid, and even more unresolved. He does not give out simple answers for what causes Brandon's addiction, or even the reasoning behind the troubled and strained relationship between Brandon and Sissy. While leaving some things enigmatic and up to the viewers to decide (many have already voiced their concerns regarding incest, which seem a bit too outrageous for this kind of film) is incredibly intriguing and help further propel the voyeuristic means of viewing the film, it also makes for maddening thoughts afterwards. What exactly is McQueen trying to say? What is the point he is trying to make? It all feels like it builds towards nothing outside of an unsatisfying and deludingly ambiguous climax. As mentioned earlier, it feels like the story and just about everything else came second to the portrait he wanted to paint through Fassbender's canvas. I can appreciate the film as it is, but it makes it hard to love it the way I thought I would.

Fassbender is stunning as Brandon, magnetizing the audience from the beginning all the way to the end. He propels the film, using his reactions and emotions to define the character. He makes Brandon's struggle one that is very real, and almost horrific. He is unable to feel intimacy, and watching him struggle to fulfill his urges is fascinating and deeply disturbing all at once. Watching his face through candid closeups, you can see just how much raw power went into the role. But while it is a stellar and tortured performance that more than proves his weight as an up and coming actor, I never found him to be nearly as incredibly impressive as we know he can be. I still find myself at odds with how great it was, and how much greater it could have been.

While James Badge Dale is effective in his small role as Brandon's smarmy and sleazy boss David, it is Mulligan who truly compliments Fassbender. Her role does not ask a whole lot of her, but her pained expressions and infinite desire to be loved by everyone is more than enough to make this a memorable turn for her. While the full frontal nudity was near useless, I only wish that she could have done more.

Shame is a very well done film, but one that will divide audiences. On one hand, it is an expertly crafted film about addiction that packs a great lead performance. On the other hand, it is a maddening film that answers very little it asks and sometimes shocks just for the sake of it. It is an impressive feat for a second feature, but one that I think could have been even better.

8/10.
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9/10
It's not about sex, it's about shame
Edd-N-Furter28 March 2012
Brandon's life is almost perfect: a steady job, a nice apartment, good friends and women adore him. 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.

British director Steve McQueen delivers a fascinating character study that 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 Brandon's case, a hunter in search of pleasure and not love, the arrival of his sister will turn him into a prey of his own 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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10/10
A Masterpiece!
Copyright199429 September 2011
"Shame" centers on Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a lonely, self- alienated man in his thirties who tries his best to appear as your average New Yorker with an office job whenever he finds himself out in public. The trouble with this young man-- or his tragic flaw-- is that whenever he finds a minute of privacy in his day, he hastily delves into his own fabricated reality: a world of excessive sex, pornography, and masturbation. The day Brandon's distressed, disruptive sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) barges into his condo looking for a place to stay until things wind down and her sorrows disappear, his life begins to spiral out of control. He grows increasingly frustrated with her as he feels her invasive presence will bring about the exposure of his deepest and darkest secrets. However, we see that this is just a manifestation of his feelings of intense shame and regret for leading the sad, artificial life he believes is the only one fit for him. Steve McQueen has the sheer audacity to go where very few filmmakers have dared to go before by making a film about sexual addiction and its effects on the human mind. In this ambitious boldness, he doesn't want to hold back on anything and he isn't afraid to show everything, so the result is a film with enough full nudity and explicit sexual content to receive an R-rating in Canada, which would probably translate to an NC- 17 rating in the US, unfortunately. There are several scenes in the film where you literally see every inch of skin on the bodies of the actors (Fassbender is probably the most physically exposed). Having said that, this is never something that comes across as frivolous and it only enhances the film's shock factor as a whole. Michael Fassbender delivers the performance of a lifetime in "Shame", and I currently can't see anyone else winning the Oscar for Best Actor at the upcoming Academy Awards. He seems to understand his sad, lonely character just as well as the screenwriters who gave birth to him (Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen). Brandon is his own worst enemy, for he longs to find solace in someone and discover genuine human affection, but the other side of him remains too caught up in a shameful world detached from real feelings and emotions. There are some scenes in the film where we, the audience, are left alone with nothing but his introspective, subdued presence as he reflects upon his actions in regret. These scenes say more than most movies can say within their entirety. It's thanks to Michael Fassbender's pitch-perfect performance that we can step into his character's shoes and get to feel what he's feeling. They say actions speak more than words; with "Shame", acting speaks more than the inclusion of any sort of narration ever would. Don't worry; I didn't forget about Carey Mulligan! I thought I would highlight her performance separately, too. If I had to say only one thing about it, I would emphasize how amazed I was at seeing her in such an unusual, singular role. She has a tendency to play soft-spoken, prim and proper characters-- but that's not the case with "Shame". She really submerges herself into this disastrous, uncontrollable mess of a young woman who never conceals her deepest feelings to the world-- be it joy or sorrow. There's this one very memorable scene in the film where she sings her own rendition of the jazz standard "New York, New York" in a lounge (she's a singer who does gigs here and there), and for the duration of the song, the camera stays focused on her face. There are no cuts nor camera movements for a good five minutes (of course, this won't come as a big shock to you if you have seen Steve McQueen's "Hunger"), yet somehow, this scene is absolutely mesmerizing-- almost hypnotizing. Just the way she naturally glances about apprehensively as this beautiful voice is unleashed (although it probably isn't hers) is enough to send shivers down your spine. What can I say about all the other aspects of the film? Well, since Steve McQueen was the man behind the direction and shot composition, it's no big surprise that "Shame" is expertly crafted in every little detail. McQueen used the same cinematographer (Sean Bobbitt) and editor (Joe Walker) of his first feature to achieve the same impressive aesthetic look. Some parts of the film must have required so much time and effort from the editor, it's hard to believe what was accomplished! As for the cinematography, I'm sure you'll be floored by it within the first five minutes of the film. In this opening scene, Brandon finds himself staring at a woman sitting across from him as he is riding the subway. He misunderstands her frightened glances and nervous attempts to display her wedding ring as romantic advances, so when she gets off in a panic at the next stop, he immediately follows her. In one of the most beautiful, gliding shots I've ever witnessed-- with an emotionally shattering musical composition by Harry Escott playing all throughout-- we see Brandon running up the station stairs and looking around for the woman, only to realize that she had run away from him. His failure to comprehend human interactions in this scene already gives us a distinct perception on this poor character's serious vulnerability. In sum, Steve McQueen's "Shame" is a masterful character study with top- grade performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan and a raw power unmatched by any other film I've seen. This is surely not a film for everyone, as it deals with dark, gritty topics often labeled as far too controversial for the big screen. But if you're open to true cinema, here's a devastating powerhouse of a film that will chill you to the bone and forever stay with you.
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10/10
Grim but great
hopek-124 March 2012
This was not an easy film to watch and even less easy to reflect on. However, I thought it was a great film. Original and brave. The acting was totally convincing and the theme important and challenging. The repeated reminders of the hypocrisy of our society regarding sex and violence were clever and uncomfortable. I was very disappointed, but not surprised, that this film received no recognition at the awards ceremony. Normally, "sex, sells" is written on the heart of all promoters. But not in this case, as it is not at all titillating. A genuinely adult film (not the usual meaning). Fine performances from Michael Fassbinder and Carry Mulligan.
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8/10
Becoming even more of a Fassbender Fan
beatlefan84200025 December 2011
This film instantly drew me in. Fassbender's performance is complex and truly believable.I can honestly say that if you are not haunted by the torment of both Michael Fassbender's and Carey Mulligan's performance, then you are in denial. The pain is apparent, the intrigue of what happened to these siblings is staring you in the face throughout the film. The role's Fassbender has chosen lately have made me an ultimate fan! Another McQueen movie, HUNGER, also stars Fassbender as an Irishman in political protest against the corrupt government of the "80's. I tremendously enjoy watching him on the screen. Michael Fassbender relays raw emotion and true passion to create believable and relatable characters. Im looking forward to future projects.
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8/10
The grim life of a sex addict
freemantle_uk2 December 2011
Steve McQueen made a real impact in the film world with his powerful debut Hunger. But like with musicians, there is always the risk that a director's second film will not live up to the high expectations the first effort sets. Yet McQueen has a good go with his dark exploration of human character in Shame.

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a successful and well off man living in New York City. He is also a sex addict who constantly picks up women, hires prostitutes, views internet porn daily and masturbates at any given opportunity. It affects his day to day life and he lives a lonely existence. His life is made more complex when his singer sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), a woman with obvious problems, crashes at his place. She interferes with his life, including sleeping with his boss, David (James Badge Dale) and sets Brandon off to tackle his addiction.

Brandon is depicted as a really despicable character, but he is a man struggling with an addiction. There is a number of sexual scenes throughout Shame, but there is no eroticism as Brandon explores more depraved and disgusting acts and his life spirals out of control. Shame plays as a drug addition movie, similar to Requiem for a Dream as someone struggles to give up something hazardous.

Fassbender offers a powerful performance as a dark, sinister man with strong interplay with Mulligan as he becomes threatening towards her. Compare him to Mulligan, a much more brittle character, on the edge for different reason. She gives a heartbreaking performance as a woman who does not know how to do deal with problems and has a sadness in her eyes. Their scenes were enhanced by McQueen's direction, using hand held cameras to follows Fassbender and the conversations stick to one point, making you feel like you are really watching them in a voyeuristic matter. This makes the movie more tense as the tone changes in an instant.

McQueen employs a grainy filter, giving Shame a dark, grim look which is perfectly fitting considering the atmosphere of the movie. The visuals have a similar feel and tone as other gritty and grim New York set films such as Taxi Driver, Midnight Cowboy and American Psycho, all of which follow the horrible underbelly of the city. He has shown that he is a great actors' director, but McQueen also had some great visuals, such as a long tracking shot of Brandon jogging and Brandon watching two people having sex in their apartment.

There are many moments in the movie that have little dialogue, relying on Fassbender superb abilities as an actor, particularly key in the beginning and during a long montage of Brandon wandering alone in New York, playing like a scene in the great novel Last Exit to Brooklyn. This is a movie about Brandon's continuing descent and self-sabotage and Fassbender should hopefully gain an Oscar nomination to back up his award buzz in Europe.

Shame continues McQueen's reputation as being one of the best emerging directors around, sticking to his no holds barred, brutal style which keeps a stage play quality to the presentation. Shame is tough, but worthy just for Fassbender's performance and keeps to a tradition of grim New York based film.

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8/10
Cold Sex
littlemartinarocena9 December 2011
Michael Fassbender's commitment is overwhelming. He must trust his director, implicitly. Good for him. Very rarely we've been exposed to so much sex without an ounce of erotic flavors. Well, that was not the intention, clearly. This is a remarkably serious film about addiction.To make matters even darker I had seen Michael Fassbender as Jung only a few days before. What an actor! Now I feel I'm as familiar with his anatomy as Mrs. Fassbender must be. I must admit the film stayed with me because within its mathematical coldness there is a palpable element of horror. Was it me or Fassbender shows the face of death in one of the many sexual occasions? Chilling really. I will take my chances and recommend it, as long as you don't take your children - I guess you can't NC17 - or your grandparents.
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2/10
A film for the intelligent mind this is not
dairy_calloula21 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Director Steve McQueen has said this is a film he wants to stay with the viewer, and in that respect he's succeeded. Since seeing this buzzed-about film last evening, my mind has been swirling around the many elements I disliked along with genuine curiosity as to how it has fared so well in reviews.

To begin with the positive aspects that earned my two stars, I found the film to be very true to its NYC location. I appreciated that although Brandon has a high income job which affords him a luxury apartment with incredible views, in a spatial space the apartment is actually quite small and confining. Not only is this true of Manhattan living in general, I felt it lent itself nicely to the tension between Brandon and Sissy. I also enjoyed that in scenes where Brandon is walking through his neighborhood or going for a run, we are seeing actual storefronts and landmarks that exist in that location. Such details along with a number of well executed subway scenes gave me the sense that Brandon is someone I could pass on the street or sit across from on the subway without a second thought or insight into the darkness of his character.

These positives aside, I carried through the entire film the feeling that Brandon and Sissy were people I could not understand and more importantly were presented in such a way that I was not meant to understand them or even try. While I don't need to be able to relate in order to appreciate a character, I do think it's important to distinguish character development from portraiture. Brandon and Sissy are clearly two troubled individuals the motivations of whom are intended to shock and disturb, and while McQueen succeeds in that regard, without any greater sense as to how these characters developed into such deeply flawed and unconventional people I simply lost interest in them from the very start. When a tear rolls down Brandon's cheek as Sissy performs "New York, New York" (perhaps one of the most excruciating cinematic moments I've encountered in a long time), I did not know why he was touched, I did not care, and most importantly I did not believe.

Brandon and Sissy's relationship in general was a point of frustration for me. I wanted more information from the very start yet I could sense it wasn't forthcoming. What was it about their past that made them so comfortable with each other in one respect yet so incredibly distant in every other? When we see Brandon ignore Sissy on his answering machine until she turns up in his shower saying he'd given her a key, I just didn't believe that Brandon would've given her a key based on what I'd seen of their relationship, particularly in light of the fact that Brandon's sexual deviance was something he tried to keep hidden. I ultimately felt that, given the many inconsistencies in their relationship without any insight as to the development of that relationship, even the moments between them which should have touched me did not. When Brandon is forced to deboard the subway car, has what appears to be an epiphany as to the condition of his sister and takes off running for his apartment where he discovers her post-suicide attempt, I again didn't buy this innate connection that attuned him to her state of being. From a converse perspective, if Brandon recognized all along the extent of Sissy's fragility (as the references to her many failed suicide attempts would lead one to believe), and the realization that he may have finally pushed her too far is the reason he runs to find her, why then would he have carelessly initiated so much of the abuse in their relationship only to weep over her near-lifeless body when she attempts suicide again? Again I felt my ability to grasp the character's motivations was hindered by lack of context.

In terms of the performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, while I generally felt they embodied their roles well within the constraints of the material, I found myself distracted at times by their accents. Carey Mulligan is usually right on target, however in an early scene where she cries on the phone to a former lover, it's abundantly clear that this is not a woman who grew up in New Jersey as her character claims. Far more blatant was Michael Fassbender's Irish accent throughout the entirety of the film. When Brandon tells a date he was born in Ireland, I had to wonder whether this dialogue was added to the script solely to explain why his accent was not that of a local.

Moving on to the graphic sexual nature of the film, I can't claim it was entirely gratuitous as Brandon's sexual compulsion was the pulse of the film, however it felt after a while like I was watching a bad porno flick that succeeded only in turning me off - for what seemed at the time like the rest of my life. My biggest problem here was a lack of balance. We are given a tremendous amount of insight into the deviant nature of Brandon's character, but the insight ends there. If every moment of Brandon's life is consumed by his sexual appetite, what are we to make of the fact that no one he interacts with on a daily basis seems to have any indication? And being multi-faceted people ourselves, how are we to see Brandon as anything but one-dimensional?

"Shame" is not the word I'd use to describe characters so eager to relinquish control to their worst instincts. Could the title "Depression, Self-Loathing and Unwillingness to Initiate Change" have been taken?
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1/10
Anonymous sex is never fun in the movies
peterbillionaire5 February 2012
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILERS Brandon (Michael Fassbender) has a lot of really hot sex and he's unhappy. That's the movie in a nutshell. When this movie ended, I thought, "Is that all there is?" The unhappiness theme is established at the start. It is reiterated throughout the film. OK, he's unhappy, I get it.

There's way too much sex. You know at the start of the film that Brandon has a lot of sex. The additional sex scenes add nothing to our understanding of the character. Although the sex looks hot (two hookers at once!), Brandon always looks grim. Anonymous sex is never fun in the movies. Lighten up, dude!

It's not clear if the sex is causing Brandon's unhappiness, or if it is a symptom. The character is not articulate, so you will have to infer.

It is fun to see Michael Fassbender walking around naked. Dude's got a big one, and a nice butt. I could do without actually seeing him pee.

There are some teasing moments when the director sets you up to expect something sexy or pervy, and then doesn't deliver. When Sissy and Brandon's boss are having loud sex in Brandon's apartment, Brandon takes his clothes off. Is he going to join them in the bedroom? No, he's just going running.

In the opening scene, Brandon is shown naked in bed with his hand over his crotch. Sorry, no payoff, he just rolls over and gets out of bed.

Incest between Brandon and Sissy is implied. She stands provocatively naked in front of him when he bursts into the bathroom. She does not cover herself as they talk. In another scene, he jumps on her on the sofa when he is wearing only a towel, which then slips off. She gets in bed with him. The issue is not directly addressed or resolved, so it seems to be a red herring.

The film seems padded. There are long shots of Brandon walking through Manhattan, or riding the subway. OK, we know he's always on the make. There is a very long single shot of Brandon jogging. If you know Manhattan geography, you can pass the time by trying to identify his route. Or you can check your messages.

In the restaurant where Brandon meets Marianne, you have to listen to the waiter give his spiel about that night's specials and the wine list.

Worst of all, you have to listen to Sissy sing "New York New York" all the way through, at a very slow tempo.

There is an incident when Brandon is on the subway. His train comes to a halt at the platform, but the doors do not open. There is some kind of scuffle on the platform. Perps are seen running. The conductor orders all of the passengers to exit through the rear car. There are cops and yellow caution tape to guide the passengers. This sequence is interesting. Being stuck on a train underground is a kind of primal fear. How was the caution tape put up so fast? The sequence looks like it was really shot in the subway. If there is some connection with the rest of the story, I missed it. Brandon exits up to the street, and the incident is forgotten.

Why does Sissy have to stay at Brandon's apartment? She has money. Why doesn't she have her own apartment? Or stay at a hotel? How can she get high-paying gigs as a singer when her life is chaotic? When does she rehearse?

The sequence where Brandon goes gay is uncredible. Is this sequence intended to show how low he will go? --- or that he's latent? These things do happen, but we already know that Brandon can get all of the hookers he wants. He meets chic women in bars and they're having sex under a bridge 20 minutes later. This hetero superman all of sudden goes to a gay sex club? Not so plausible.

Sissy's character is more interesting than Brandon. She talks more, so you know her better. Too bad about the suicide attempt. Like, now it's time for a big dramatic moment. Maybe if the movie were about Sissy, I would care more.

There isn't a lot of ideas here. Most of the film seems to be treading water. Brandon is unhappy at the end of the movie. Like he was at the start.
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1/10
Story had one track mind - no substance to plot
grandtime0019 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
The story focuses on a man who is consumed with self gratification sexually. He is also in inner turmoil to some extent. His sister moves in with him unexpectedly and there are subtle references to her wanting him sexually. Beyond this shallow contrived plot line...there is nothing really going on. The movie just didn't go anywhere. The acting was okay, but there is a scene of his sister singing an entire new york new york song...really. Another scene shows him running in the streets for like 5 minutes. It felt like the director needed to add lots of fluff to this movie to make it 2 hours or whatever time it ran. It was boring and not worth watching in my opinion.
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5/10
Very disappointing story, good actor
madmask131 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Masterpiece? Really? I had expectations after seeing the trailer and having seen Fassbender play in other movies, but boy was I disappointed! Not by the actors, even though I thought Carey Mulligan was better in other movies, Michael Fassebender is actually the only good thing I kept from the movie. Thhe story doesn't go anywhere in my opinion. McQueen only gives glimpses of few things that are abandoned right away like his relationship to his colleague, his family past, his sister (wasn't it the center point of the movie, to have a situation where she disturbs everything? she's not present enough for me). I would have preferred to have shorter or fewer sex scenes (all the sex showed does not serve the story that much after a while we've seen it all!) and more deeper views on Brandon's relationships.

I don't mind to see a dark movie (actually I usually appreciate it), or a slow movie where it's more about contemplating, getting close to the characters to feel what it's about. But "Shame" didn't get me at all, I was just glad when it was over, a bit mad to have paid a ticket, and very disappointed.
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1/10
Shame is a shame
tom-vene11 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I will summarize my opinion: This is a bad film, with a bad script, with gratuitous use of sex, with not-explained inferences and without a message and ending. Do not waste your time watching it. Since I have to write 10 lines of text - the above would suffice - here it goes: Please explain to me what is the relationship between Brandon and Sissy his sister? Does they practiced incest? Did they had a brute father? Were they abandoned by their mother? In other words, what is the real cause of Brandon's weird sexual behavior and deviations? Clearly the guy is abnormal, but why? Besides, it simply does not makes sense that he wishes to have sex with every woman that crosses his path, but he is also impotent, seemingly a gay who has not yet left the closet and a voyeur. And if the readers really wish to have a reason for not watching this film, the guy spends long times doing nothing. As for his sister, her story is a not-story since it never becomes clear what is bothering her. Once again, a bad script badly directed. BTW I am not a bigot neither a prude.
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3/10
Stong performances can't hide films flaws
peibeck14 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to know how filmmaker Steve McQueen feels about his protagonist, look no further than the title of this film.

Michael Fassbender gives an interesting, strong performance as a sexual addict. He has an equally damaged sister, played by Carey Mulligan. And that is the extent of what you learn about the principals in "Shame." And while anti-heroes can make intriguing leads, there needs to be some character development to make you want to watch these people for two hours. What's shocking about the climax of "Shame" isn't the characters actions, but the fact that as audience members we've long since given up caring about them.

Director McQueen uses virtually no dialogue, instead relying on visuals and sound. So despite the subject matter, abundant nudity, occasional violence, it's all very clinical and detached. Viewers are to make their own minds up about the characters and if, in the end, Fassbender is starting to make a recovery. However, the film is shot is such a dystopian fashion, it's pretty clear how the filmmakers feel about him. Perhaps if the film was a documentary this lack of empathy and detachment would be powerful. However, as a pretense to be serious drama this film is like a bad hook-up, leaving you wondering why you wasted your time.
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Shame is the title but is it really the crux of it?
laura_macleod14 February 2012
Warning: 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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4/10
Good Performances in a Shallow and Empty Story
claudio_carvalho29 July 2012
In New York, the empty thirty and something year-old Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a sex-addicted man that works in an office. His longest relationship lasted only four months and Brandon does not have any friend. Brandon has casual sex with women that he meets in bars; has sex also with hookers; visits porn sites in Internet; and collects sex magazines. However, he is unable to have sex with an acquaintance.

When his also dysfunctional younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) unexpectedly moves to his apartment, she has one night stand with Brandon's boss and the world of Brandon turns upside-down.

"Shame" is one of the most overrated films that I have recently seen. Brandon is a man that was probably sexually abused when he was a child and is sex addicted. The plot is limited to show his empty existence shagging women and masturbating. His sister Sissy is also a dysfunctional young woman, weaker than him, that needs support from her older brother but he is unable to help her. In the end, "Shame" is a film with good performances, but with a shallow and empty story. My vote is four.

Title (Brazil): "Shame"
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1/10
i want my money back
cmshents5 June 2012
i will always remember not to watch anything by Steve McQueen. i just want my money back. this movie falls in the same category as Trespass or Sleepers. What a stupid movie. I would not watch it even if I'd be paid to. Is it trying to teach us about the dangers of porn? The follow up question is what 18 year old doesn't know the side effects of porn. My take is that Mr McQueen is duping us into believing that his movie is full of action by putting up 18sln - just a man showing dick and ass. Not even proper shagging. There was no storyline at all. The movie sucks big time. Where in the world a married boss meets the sister of a subordinate and bangs her on the same night in the condo of the subordinate while the subordinate is listening to the bonking moaning? Only in a dumb movie.
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3/10
An Empty Movie about nothing
harsh-356-44430213 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
For an hour and a half almost nothing happens. The film has almost no plot. The protagonist does not seem like a sex addict, he looks more like a normal single man who likes to sleep with different women without commitments and watching porn. The film ends and we still don't know what is the damn problem with his sister, the only thing we know is that she decides to commit suicide. People who say they see a complex and dark story in this script must have a very boring life. There are a lot of scenes that add nothing to the story. As the interminable scene where Sissy sings "New York, New York" or the subway trips where nothing happens. I do not question the work of the actors, but the script is very poor and this movie is full of disposable parts. I guess this movie may like to very conservative people looking to see soft porn scenes, but not much more than that.
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1/10
What a waste of my evening
sarahedouglas9 April 2012
This is one of the worst films I have seen since Benjamin Button. I feel that an evening of my life has been taken from me that I will never get back. The only positive comment about this film is that it was not as long as Benjamin Button.

This is a dull and pointless film. It seems to submit my review it has to be at least 10 lines long.

This film is one of those self indulgent films that just panders to the ego of the director. How anyone who watched this back before releasing it felt it had any artistic merit must have been delusional or must have enjoyed watching the dull sex scenes. Some of the reviews said this film was shocking, I certainly did not think so. I do not understand how this film has managed to get a 7.8/10 review. Perhaps I was watching a different film.
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1/10
It might divide people but not me
simonajroberts25 August 2012
The reviews and assessments for this movie really surprise me. There can be many reasons for watching a movie, however one of the main reasons is to entertain. I'm not too bothered what genre a movie is if its original. What does this movie do? it does not shock, it does not entertain, its not amusing or thought provoking. Its not artistic, so whats the point of it? ultimately its a really boring movie. Lets cut through the posing and the pretense. It does'nt have a message, but its an excuse to have a lot of nudity and simulated sex, so what? Does this show it in a more meaningful-or less meaningful way? I guess for people who like the movie 'Drive' and 'Lost in translation' and feel clever and perceptive and cool, it might tick some boxes. Otherwise, if you want a good movie, don't rent this one.
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1/10
Very dull, very bad film
team-2616 January 2012
Some spoilers.

I really wanted this to be good - but it wasn't. It was gratuitous: I have no problem with nudity or sex on screen - as long there's a point to it. Here there wasn't.

For example, at the very beginning of the film we are treated to the sight of the main character (Brandon) walking around his apartment naked - with the camera at crotch height. Then we are treated to the sight of him peeing - with the camera at crotch height. Does this add to our understanding of the character? No. Does it advance the plot? No. Ergo gratuitous unless . . . well, I don't know Steve McQueen, but this seemed a tad homoerotic for my taste.

Later the main character's boss walks up to him and pinches him on the bottom. We aren't told why an aggressively heterosexual man does an act of homosexual harassment. So is this also gratuitous?

Still later - I'd walked out by then - I gather there's a full-on (and less than credible) homosexual encounter. That doesn't surprise me, but I am surprised that the depths of Brandon's addiction to sex (his 'Shame') was marked by a sexual encounter with another man. In these enlightened times it seems odd to mark a sexual nadir by a spot of consensual buggery - and not complimentary to gay men who (quite rightly) aren't in the least bit ashamed of what they do. If you want a bit of degradation, why not show Brandon in a clinch with a sheep - if, that is, you want a little 'shame'?

There will be reviews cladding this movie with a lot of pretentious statements, but at bottom this is a film made for men who like to take a sideways and surreptitious peek at the urinal. It's a film made for men who will claim it's a deep and meaningful look at sexual addiction - to patch over the fact that they are titillated by other men's body parts. It's a film made for men who can pretend it's intellectual while denying it's masturbatory. In short, 'Shame' is a film for men who haven't got the guts to rent 'Young Studs of Oslo'.

Actually, let me take one thing back: 'Shame' is not masturbatory. It's not that good. Pornography has to engage, but this film was boring. It was dull. It was tedious. And that's what's unforgivable.

One to avoid.
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1/10
For insecure types who need to sound intellectual
buddybickford9 February 2013
Yes only insecure types who needing to affirm their personality will like this, as they believe by endorsing this they elevate themselves into the league of self proclaimed Illuminati. A league that has more members everyday, society is so full of insecurity that this is the result, so many people too afraid to judge through lack of self confidence, that they succumb to their doubting thoughts.

This movie is diabolical, and no it has not found an unusual level of interest that only few can appreciate, it is simply poor vacant ugly and sad.

Go on stand up, say you hate it, be strong, forget about the negative 'tweets' (or whatever medium it is you use to belong) you'll get from your peers, just refuse even when your subconsciousness says "go on vote 10 out of 10, Doogle and Cedric will think you're so 'in' and that girl with the green hair who makes puppets from used polystyrene coffee cups will think you are so amazing".

BE STRONG, please we don't have much time left, we're almost outnumbered.
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1/10
Suggesting a lot, telling nothing
aj-to26 April 2012
I hate these kind of films. You're obliged to be utterly impressed by them, and I bet even the actors themselves go with the common flow of appreciating them only because it's so right to be impressed by them. I get so weary with that everlasting overemphasizing of sex and all that has to do with it. Don't you see, it's mere poverty man, and we're nicely following the paths of nature. What's so special about that? Must I have heavy opinions about a man who is sexually obsessed (yawn) and get's confronted with all that's contrary to that, with life, with the bias development of events occurring to everyone? Get a life, dude! This is soooo boring... I have no commitment whatsoever with a person that behaves like an underdog, feels like an underdog, and actually IS an underdog. Where is an uplifting point; where is greatness; where valor?
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3/10
Come see the world's dullest porno
dfranzen7011 January 2012
Watching Shame is worse than the clichés of watching paint dry or grass grow, because in those instances you know there'll be some sort of satisfying conclusion, some point to it all. If there's a point to Shame, it's so subtle as to be apathetically invisible, which is so say you can't see it and it doesn't much care if you do. It features performances that range from stoic to histrionic, plot development that is nonsensical, scenes that drag on for no discernible reason, and awkward conversations that don't even show the promise of less-awkward conversations later on. It's a soulless, dead-eyed film. Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is supposed to be a porn addict who has gigabytes of the stuff on his PC at work and his laptop at home, plus a lot of magazines; he has anonymous sex with anyone he can find. He's a bit of a nihilist, not moving through life so much as wafting through it like an unpleasant odor. But his sex addiction, let's be frank, is really rather tame. There are probably millions of loner males who indulge in the same behavior. That is, this ain't the same guy played by Christian Bale in American Psycho or by Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver. Brandon, a well-off exec at some Big Company, simply finds outlets for his desires, sometimes tempting danger, but never resorts to crime or anything requiring emotion. We're meant to take that to mean he's repressing something.

Enter his sister, named – seriously – Sissy (Carey Mulligan). Our first glimpse of Sissy is her emerging, startled, from Brandon's shower; she's arrived unexpectedly (to stay) while he was at work. She is naked, and we see it all. We're supposed to be shocked, and we are. After all, Carey Mulligan is an up and coming star, and this is no stand in. Brandon's reaction is a little more of the enraged type, but he merely bottles it up and stomps away after closing the door. There's a lot of door slamming in the movie.

Over the course of the movie, we get some clues to the nature of the siblings' relationship. They have been out of touch for some time, although Sissy does have her brother's apartment key. She's flirty and works as a torch singer in various New York clubs. He seems to be perpetually seething at her immature behavior. Is it because she's disrupting his happy fun time, or is it something more…decadent? The movie's title gives us an idea.

The movie promises to be intriguing. Why have these two been apart? Where has Sissy been, and why does Brandon hold her in such contempt? We're supposed to assume that his constant masturbating and hooker- engaging portends something, a way perhaps of acting out an emotion or two. But what? We're never told. The hints are there, and one can make an educated guess to the root of the problems, but it's a fool's errand. It's not just that we might not find out the entire truth, we might not find out anything, period. That leaves us with two opposite characters who, under less-profane circumstances, could have starred in a buddy sitcom about mismatched roomies.

The movie looks grimy and feels slimy. You want to take a long bath afterward, not a cold shower – despite the frequent sex and nudity. Sometimes, the movie shows us one thing, leading us to one conclusion, and then shows us a different conclusion. Whammo, you've been hit by a red herring. There's more depravity in here than there was in Abel Ferrara's Bad Lieutenant but without the compelling plot. Novice director Steve McQueen (no relation) seems to have little idea on how to end a scene, as long silences seem pointless rather than pointed. People stare at each other, then off into space, as if this meant something. Maybe it does. You won't care.

Shame is an ugly mess. It's an unhappy, inconsolable wreck of a movie. It's not a train wreck from which one cannot avert one's eyes; it's just a generic wreck that is faceless, dispassionate, and distant.
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