I’m not sure that Michael Fassbender has anything to be ashamed about. Well, maybe Jonah Hex. The actor is in demand and lets it all hang out to portray a sex addict.
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) appears to be a successful businessman but that shiny veneer masks a person with an addiction. It’s not just your usual substance as Brandon is addicted to sex. If he can’t find willing strangers to hook up with he’ll pay money to a prostitute or pleasure himself with web chats or porn sites.
He’s charming and handsome in comparison to his brash, socially awkward boss David (James Badge Dale). Brandon’s habits get derailed when his needy sister Sissy (Carrie Mulligan) shows up moves into his apartment. He takes David to see her cabaret show and the married David sees an opportunity for a romp.
Sissy’s dalliance puts Brandon at odds with her and only adds more friction to her staying with him - perhaps more so because she’s the opposite side of his coin. Brandon tries to go on a normal date with his coworker Marianne (Nicole Beharie), who he has been eyeing but normalcy and attraction have a way of dampening his insatiable libido.
Shame is not exactly an easy film to watch. For the prudish there are ample sexual encounters and a starring role for Fassbender’s… bender. From hearing Charlize Theron wax eloquently about it on a talk show you’d expect it to garner an Oscar – talk about phallic symbols.
However those thinking that is all Shame is about are being titillated to ignore the fine acting coming from the top half of Fassbender. Brandon is trying to outrun some past shame by having sex as much as he can.
Only in that white hot blankness of orgasm can he forget whatever it is. We never really find out, but we’re led to believe that Sissy suffered it as well she just chose dependency as her reaction instead of becoming a sex addict. Fassbender shows us the pursuit and conquering, he’s obviously more adept than David, but also the degradation and depression.
He makes no relationship contacts; it’s all about the fuck. When he does start to develop feelings for his coworker by going on a normal date with her he does start to feel something for her. Which eventually leads to the bedroom, but his member doesn’t know how to handle a mindful screw instead of a mindless one. It’s quite the ugly portrait and Fassbender shows he has the acting skill to pull it off no matter what he pulls out of his pants.
Shame is presented in a 1080p transfer (2.35:1). Special features, mostly presented in high definition, include the 3 minute “Focus on Michael Fassbender,” the 3 minute interview with director Steve McQueen, the 3 minute “Story of Shame,” the 2 minute “A Shared Vision,” the 5 minute “In character with Michael Fassbender” from Fox Movie Channel (the only item in standard def), and the 2 minute theatrical trailer.
Shame may be known for introducing Theron to her most wished for costar, but it also paints a portrait of a man who is anything but sexy. He’s using sex to try and run from his troubles but finds them showing up on his doorstep. It’s a well-acted film that tangentially deals with sexuality but is really about the terrors within the mind.
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