Shame is a movie that is about sex, but for a movie dealing with that topic it is definitely the least sexy movie ever made about the subject. The movie follows Michael Fassbender who is a sex addict living in New York City, he plays the role of the character Brandon who lives alone in a bachelor apartment in the city. The movie details his various sexual encounters that become more a more desperate and unsatisfying as the movie progresses towards its intense conclusion.
This is not the first time that Mr Fassbender has worked with Steve McQueen, who is directing the film. They first worked together in 2008 on the breakthrough production for Mr Fassbender, ‘Hunger.’ In this movie he took the role of Bobby Sands a hunger striker in Ireland. In their movies they seem to push each other to the limit in a way that is creatively liberating but also challenging. The movie shows how the character Brandon is hell bent on self-destruction as he believes this is the way to excises his demons.
Mr Fassbender does an excellent job of the character and creates an exterior that is polished and confident. He seems to be a successful man without any problems but there are certain things that betray what is going on inside. There is one notable scene where he’s sitting on the subway and he holds the eyes of a married woman for far too long.
There is also the endless stream of escorts coming to and from his apartment that giveaway that he might have a problem and later in the movie his boss discovers that there is a large amount of pornography on his computer.
His sister visits in the city and disrupts his regular routine. She is played by Carrie Mulligan and has the role of a singer from Los Angeles. You can see from her character as well that she is incapable of developing a long-term romance and that hints that there was some problems with their family while growing up, you don’t actually know what happened and McQueen leaves this entirely open for interpretation.
This is a very different role for Mulligan and is worlds away from her previous work in films such as ‘An Education.’ The visit from the sister reminds him that he should perhaps try and become more normal and he gets rid of his enormous collection of pornography and asks out on a date a woman from his office.
However, his downward spiral continues until he really hits rock bottom. His decline is shocking but it does feel slightly self-indulgent and tedious and the movie feels like a cross between Eyes Wide Shut and American Psycho.
Mr Fassbender has a great talent in that he is able to find subtleties in a character even if they are very hard to find. His recent movies have proved that he is capable of playing almost any character and doing it with a remarkable amount of grace, the movie ‘A Dangerous Method’ comes to mind