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FTN Reviews Shame

January 10th, 2012 by Marc Comments

Shame (18)

Directed by: Steve McQueen

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and James Badge Dale

Running time: 101mins

In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life — which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction — is disrupted when his sister Sissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a very successful executive living and working in New York. He works hard for his boss David (James Badge Dale) who is constantly seeking a ladies’ attention, if only for the night. Brandon watches, and at times cringes at his friend’s shameless advances, for Brandon hides a dark secret.

Brandon is a sex addict. When he is not eyeing up a potential “fix” he is either looking at pornography or using a prostitute or a random stranger to satisfy his needs.

All of his desires however are severely interrupted when his younger and disturbed sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) comes to visit him and decides to stay. Sissy has problems of her own and both siblings must find a way to deal with each other’s psychological needs or face severe consequences….

Shame is a film that tries to deal with a subject that although may have had large tabloid headlines, is an addiction that may have little sympathy with most of the viewing public. Sadly though, Shame does not try to understand the craving within this addiction.

Brandon comes across as a very successful person in all manner of things and at times the audience feels little sympathy towards him. He is good looking, well dressed and lives in a very stylish apartment. He is seen throughout the film with a number of different women though he engages in no meaningful relationship.

He does try to change when he dates a fellow co-worker Marianne (Nichole Beharie) but becomes at odds with himself as he seeks some sort of normal relationship. As for his sister Sissy, when she is not singing or crashing at her brother’s place and living in a mess, she is coming onto Brandon’s boss David.

Shame has no witty dialogue exchanges; indeed there are periods in the film with no dialogue at all! Thankfully though, Director Steve McQueen has spared us most the annoying one syllable responses to the quite graphic sex scenes and instead removed all sound except for the sweeping and quite low key score by Harry Escott.

Whilst the plot may at times feel quite predictable, the acting sadly is what it is, which is basically the main character Brandon going through the motions. This may seem clichéd as I write this, but it’s quite difficult to describe this movie in other terms.

It has neither outstanding acting, nor great dialogue. There are one or two scenes however that are of note. One is of Sissy singing “New York, New York.” Some may find this version totally unreal and superb whilst others may find it slow and certainly not the showstopper written by John Kander. The other scene is a very long tracking shot of Brandon running down a street of New York. Due to the length of this particular one-take shot, you can appreciate the difficulty and effort to make this.

Sadly though, two scenes do not make a movie. With the lacking of feeling for the characters, Shame fails to either engage the audience or leave them with a better understanding of sexual addiction.

Phil Wilce

2 out of 5 nerds

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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….