Release Date
December 2, 2011
Steve McQueen
Steve McQueen
Abi Morgan
Distributed By
Fox Searchlight Pictures
$6.5 million
Drama, Foreign
Rated NC-17 for some explicit sexual content
101 minutes


Shame is the story of a conflicted man. Whether you label it sex addiction or unattainable desire, Brendan (Michael Fassbender) lives a life engulfed in sex. With a constant stream of sexual partners, a skewed view on monogamy, and hard-drives full of smut, Brendan would appear in need of an intervention. As you look at the face of Michael Fassbender, who truly commands this role, you would assume he is simply a confident and suave individual taking advantage of what is presented to him, but as the film progresses, you realize that Brendan seeks out this lifestyle and is unable to escape his unending libido.

It is when his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), unexpectedly moves in that Brendan’s world is brought into question. He can no longer masturbate when or where he desires, he is forced to go to extravagant hotels for his sexual conquests, and his aggression is brought to an all-time high. You start to realize Brendan is trapped in his own sexual world, closing his family out to pursue a life of solitude. His mother calls begging him to answer, his sister is worried that if she leaves, she’ll never see him again; Brendan is a loner.

The long, lingering shots on Fassbender are captivating, with strong scores beefing up the background. These scores set the different moods of the film, somewhere between a John Williams score for a Spielberg picture and the deep, rich jazz of a fancy nightclub.

Shame earns its NC-17 rating, with drawn out manaja twas and blatant graphic sex scenes, not to mention constant full-frontal male nudity equally countered with plenty of nude scenes from the fairer sex, including Carey Mulligan baring all. None of this takes away from the film, thankfully, and only adds to the sexual nature of the plot. Shame is definitely not a film you would want to sit through with family members, however, look past the explicitness of the film, and you encounter one of the most contemplative films of the year.


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