Shame Review

Do you feel loved?

A stranger with a roving eye catches the attention of a pretty blonde woman opposite him on a half empty train carriage.

This scene will be familiar to anyone who’s lived in a city for any real length of time.

But for Brandon Sullivan, the repetitive nature of this occurrence is reason enough for him to feel shame.

Sullivan is handsome, successful in his career and leads a rather swinging lifestyle as a carefree bachelor in the american metropolis so great, they named it twice.

Alas, Sullivan’s seemingly perfect existence hides a dark demon he has yet to conquer.

For Sullivan is addicted to sex in almost any form.

After missing out on a rendezvous with his attractive blonde traveller, Sullivan ignores the increasingly desperate voicemails left on his answer phone by another mystery woman, and sets about scratching his itch through whatever means are available to him.

As Sullivan goes about his idiosyncratic routine, the consequences of his increasingly dangerous liaisons and transparent issues with any real intimacy begin to impact upon the one person in his life he cares most about.

Shame is Steve McQueen’s second feature film and sees him reunited with his Hunger muse, Michael Fassbender.

Having prompted some disproportionate media hysteria on the other side of the atlantic for its everyday depiction of male nudity, something almost half the world experience on a daily basis, Shame really creates headlines for tackling the still taboo addiction to sex.

Whatever you may believe about this condition, it’s no less of a disorder than alcoholism.

And there’s plenty of sympathy around for people with that “disease”.

As is often the case with issues of addiction, it’s never the chosen drug itself that’s the root cause of the illness; rather it provides an escape from having to deal with this root.

What Shame does, through Abi Morgan and McQueen’s compelling script, is bring sex addiction and the guilt associated with this affliction into the public consciousness; with Fassbender’s fearless and gripping performance as Brandon Sullivan a most fitting canvas to hang this upon.

Mixing swaggering confidence while on the hunt for prey with flashes of fierce frustration as he becomes increasingly desperate at his pathological behaviour, Fassbender brings humanity and a genuine air to his portrayal of Sullivan.

Carey Mulligan continues to shed her girlish reputation with another adult performance as Sullivan’s sister Sissy, who exhibits similar tendencies as her elder sibling when she comes to stay with him.

Shame is another accomplished and classy film from Steve McQueen that deserves a lot of affection from cinematic punters.

So make sure you show it some love.

Jonathan Campbell

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December 2011
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