Shame (18)

Film

Drama

Shame

Shame

Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
Rate this
 

Time Out says

Sun Sep 4 2011

The British artist Steve McQueen stormed the film world in 2008 with ‘Hunger’, his film about the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. His second film, ‘Shame’, sees Michael Fassbender as a New York bachelor who has a complicated relationship with his sexuality and Carey Mulligan as the younger sister who imposes a rare visit on his Manhattan life. It’s a slightly more conventional film than ‘Hunger’ (no extended floor-washing scenes here) but no less courageous or probing in its investigation of the extremes of human behaviour.

You may hear this described as a film about sex addiction, but that makes ‘Shame’ sound like an ‘issue’ film, which it isn’t. It’s a character study about a man whose sex drive is an outlet for unspoken, unknown agonies. Fassbender is Brandon, a casually slick, charming but reticent man who lives alone in an ordered, characterless flat and works in an aggressively male corporate environment. Away from the stark routines of his working life, he enjoys random encounters with women (and, once, a man), hires prostitutes, indulges in porn and masturbates at work. His ease masks troubles at which this story, set over just a few days, only hints.

McQueen frames episodes in Brandon’s life in a steely, unflinching style, neither gratuitous nor coy. He takes us into various bedrooms and under various sheets but sidesteps eroticism even when bums and breasts are bouncing furiously. There are scenes of startling intensity, such as when Brandon catches the eye of a stranger on a train and we follow their intricate rush-hour flirtation or when we catch him jogging through the city in a single shot. There’s one virtuoso sequence in which McQueen cuts between a fight outside a bar, its aftermath and the flirty encounter that precipitates it.

Brandon’s volatile sister, Sissy (Mulligan), comes to stay, and their relationship is awkward. She thinks nothing of taking Brandon's married work colleague (James Badge Dale) back to her brother’s apartment and bed. Brandon holds her at a distance, yet Sissy crawls under his duvet at night seeking comfort (he screams at her to leave), and when she disturbs him wanking in his bathroom he rushes out in anger and leaps on her, naked apart from a towel around his waist. Mulligan has a mesmerising scene in which she sings a slow version of ‘New York, New York’ in a city bar and McQueen lingers long on her face. You imagine that she and Brandon shared a trauma as kids – but imagining is all we can do. McQueen gives little away. He wants us to judge behaviour not backstories.

The film leaves us with a sense of cycles repeating. There’s a welcome absence of closure, although it’s a shame McQueen and writer Abi Morgan are not bold enough to leave Brandon and Sissy’s immediate story hanging in the same way: they round off with an event that is too conclusive for the film that precedes it. An alternative, subtler climax lies tantalisingly close.

That might trouble in the moment, but it doesn’t sink the film. Far from it. Like ‘Hunger’, ‘Shame’ is interested in the stark immediacy of one man’s world and drawing us into that world without easy explanations. It’s a work that feels, both for our times and of them. It reconfirms McQueen as a filmmaker with an unflinching, microscopic gaze on the world.
0

Reviews

Add +

Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Jan 13, 2012

Duration:

99 mins

Users say

0
<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

4.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:10
  • 3 star:4
  • 2 star:1
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|58
1 person listening
Jamie

Some people are talking about redemption or lack there of. This movie doesn't offer it because it is centered around two characters who don't find redemption. It is set around a few days of their life and is an honest portrait of their flaws and struggle for a normal existence (if there is such a thing) If a movie is true and honest it doesn't need a happy ending, It is the truth to the story and character that makes it special. For me the movie was difficult to watch at times but not in a bad way. Films about character filled with honesty and tragedy (which is as true to life as it gets) are probably my favorite, even if they are difficult to watch.

John Cooper

A brave, unflinching examination of sexual addiction. Mercifully short, the film manages to entertain despite its grim subject matter . a man's inability to make an emotional connection . . and a woman's inability to deal with her destructive impulses. The film uses music rather than dialogue to create mood and although slow--paced at times it nevertheless succeeds in its portrayal of a man trying to combat his compulsive behaviour. Performances from the principals are excellent.

Pursuivent

Are you all kidding? The script was lacking, there was no viable narrative and the acting was atrocious. This is nothing less than a little pervert of a writers fantasy. For god sake don't pay for this dross, it's just a little something to give the pointless critics something to bore everyone with. This meaningless poop of a film was a bit like waiting for a fish to sneeze!

Marko

Just saw this film tonight. I hadn't read anything about it beforehand just had heard of the film title. I have to say it blew me away. Am a little disappointed about some of the negative comments but each to their own. The sex scenes are part of the film and part of its beauty illustrating the intensities of the feelings of Brandon. What is more memoriable to me is the music score how beautifully it is woven I to the whole film just so perfectly. The last 25 mins of the film doesnt have dialogue with haunting music that depicts the emyotion and intensities of the main character from soothing to manic to soothing to self loathing. The whole film can be summed up in one simple line for me 'We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place' (Sissy) The cinematography is just gorgeous too. I have to say this is the best surprise film I have seen in a long time. One of those that just hits you so so hard when least expecting it. I expect the Freud students may have different views of this film. Well thank you Mr McQueen the cast and crew for such a thought provoking masterpiece.

Marko

Just saw this film tonight. I hadn't read anything about it beforehand just had heard of the film title. I have to say it blew me away. Am a little disappointed about some of the negative comments but each to their own. The sex scenes are part of the film and part of its beauty illustrating the intensities of the feelings of Brandon. What is more memoriable to me is the music score how beautifully it is woven I to the whole film just so perfectly. The last 25 mins of the film doesnt have dialogue with haunting music that depicts the emyotion and intensities of the main character from soothing to manic to soothing to self loathing. The whole film can be summed up in one simple line for me 'We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place' (Sissy) The cinematography is just gorgeous too. I have to say this is the best surprise film I have seen in a long time. One of those that just hits you so so hard when least expecting it. I expect the Freud students may have different views of this film. Well thank you Mr McQueen the cast and crew for such a thought provoking masterpiece.

Jill

It is clear everyone here is not artistic or thoughtful enough to enjoy this film.

Jill

It is clear everyone here is not artistic or thoughtful enough to enjoy this film.

Jill

Such a beautifully ambiguous and depressing. The best film of 2011 after Melancholia. Unbelievable cinematography. The score was also brilliant. It was cerebral and touched on the incestual jealousy of a man attempting to repeatedly eradicate his love for his sister through loveless sex. Cannot say enough amazing things about this film. Honestly everyone must see this movie. The emotion is realistic and torturously difficult to watch and not feel sympathetic to Brandon.

Jill

Such a beautifully ambiguous and depressing. The best film of 2011 after Melancholia. Unbelievable cinematography. The score was also brilliant. It was cerebral and touched on the incestual jealousy of a man attempting to repeatedly eradicate his love for his sister through loveless sex. Cannot say enough amazing things about this film. Honestly everyone must see this movie. The emotion is realistic and torturously difficult to watch and not feel sympathetic to Brandon.

Joe

Weird...crazy... guy, I do not understand why he is unhappy while at the same time he can sleep with any beautiful woman... life is not just about sex there is so many other things he can do in this world ... the way i look at it, the character emphazised too much on his own personal ..crazy problems... this guy should meet a phschiatric to learn how to enjoy himself...

scrumpyjack

A man ripped apart by guilt, Michael Fassbender does an EXCELLENT job...but the coldness is ott and LEAVING LAS VAGAS covered the same ground with aplom. Porn though? You lads buy some pretty unexciting shit! go see...flawed? oh yes, but not fatally. well done

Bill

We know 2 things about the lead characters' pasts. They're siblings and Irish immigrants. So our theme is sex addiction, sex, self loathing, and there is no redemption. The characters are flat. Seems like porn. No redemption for this movie.

Steveb

Great Film! The camera looks it's not showing. A great exploration into addiction. Fassbenders performance is by far the best of the year and outstanding performance, possibly one of the best performances of the past decade.

Steveb

Great Film! The camera looks it's not showing. A great exploration into addiction. Fassbenders performance is by far the best of the year and outstanding performance, possibly one of the best performances of the past decade.

David

This film was immense for me. It was a slow pace and ended without a firm conclusion but thats what addiction is. There wasnt a cliche into a clinic end or death. He is trying to cope with a distressing situation where he clearly hates himself and the routine nature of his life. Fassbender should have got a nomination. Everything about his role is second to none. Even the dodgy trans-atlantic accent is explained. The cinematography is absolute fantastic and just seems real. I personally thought it was a good watch but agree that the sexuality was a little overdone but in a film about sex addiction? Natural. I do have one bugbear in that I just dont like Carey Mulligan. She does nothing for me in a film, just some person reading lines.

David

This film was immense for me. It was a slow pace and ended without a firm conclusion but thats what addiction is. There wasnt a cliche into a clinic end or death. He is trying to cope with a distressing situation where he clearly hates himself and the routine nature of his life. Fassbender should have got a nomination. Everything about his role is second to none. Even the dodgy trans-atlantic accent is explained. The cinematography is absolute fantastic and just seems real. I personally thought it was a good watch but agree that the sexuality was a little overdone but in a film about sex addiction? Natural. I do have one bugbear in that I just dont like Carey Mulligan. She does nothing for me in a film, just some person reading lines.

Mabel

Fassbender is incredible in this film, raw and honest, and I hope he goes all the way. He's our generation's Richard Burton or Oliver Reed. His partnership with director Steve McQueen is something special and long may they continue.

Mabel

Fassbender is incredible in this film, raw and honest, and I hope he goes all the way. He's our generation's Richard Burton or Oliver Reed. His partnership with director Steve McQueen is something special and long may they continue.

Geraldine

I thought this was one of the saddest films I have ever seen. I saw it twice in a week because I wanted to 'see' things I may have missed first time round. Brandon is so sad I could weep for him and he seems utterly helpless t o change - I wanted to believe at the end that he would resist the woman on the train but found it hard to do so - on second viewing I became aware of the ticking sound suggesting time was running out (?) and that he will eventually throw himself on to the tube tracks as seems so heavily suggested throughout the film. I look forward to Mc Queen's next movie in the same way I do for Michael Haneke films.

Geraldine

I thought this was one of the saddest films I have ever seen. I saw it twice in a week because I wanted to 'see' things I may have missed first time round. Brandon is so sad I could weep for him and he seems utterly helpless t o change - I wanted to believe at the end that he would resist the woman on the train but found it hard to do so - on second viewing I became aware of the ticking sound suggesting time was running out (?) and that he will eventually throw himself on to the tube tracks as seems so heavily suggested throughout the film. I look forward to Mc Queen's next movie in the same way I do for Michael Haneke films.

ED

A boring film that if I had the strength after falling a sleep during the rendition of New York New York I would have asked for my money back. We are ALL well aware that quick fix drugs and sex do not bring happiness that they are sad problems. This was a film made for the art world and surely not for main stream - no doubt it will be picked and dissected by the intelligensia. For me it was a ponderous deperessing load of rubbish.

DaveB

Hardly an uplifting film but one I think that is very well made and well worth seeing. If however you expect meaning in a film to slap you in the face then you may as well stay at home and watch some b grade twaddle. This film is a really interesting commentary on isolation, despair and struggle set in the context of a world where immediate gratification - be it sex, drugs or money, is presented as some universal panacea. The point of the film is that ultimately its not in these things that we find meaning and ultimately happiness and that the commodification and proliferation of sex and porn in particular, represent little ultimate value.

Paul

I was reminded of Patrick Bateman without a nail gun and didn't go for the addict idea as Brandon seemed more like a (Wolfean) 'Master of the Universe' with a normal sex-drive. The ending does spoil a good film and suggest Jidro see Ai no korrida before deciding if see is old enough to see 18 films, otherwise best stick to PG.

Andrey

The film is definitely worth seeing it, although it isn't deep enough, just an issue film about sex addiction. If you a sex addict or close - this is must watch film. The Review here isn't good though at all, as it just lists all the events in the film, should be something more smart than just telling what happened in the film.

Andrey

The film is definitely worth seeing it, although it isn't deep enough, just an issue film about sex addiction. If you a sex addict or close - this is must watch film. The Review here isn't good though at all, as it just lists all the events in the film, should be something more smart than just telling what happened in the film.

Blaize67

A pointless ramble through a not-very-interesting person's life. Self-indulgent and lurid. Boring.

Clive Henderson

There's little to disagree with in the Time Out review above by Dave Calhoun. He's pretty much spot on so why he awards 4 starts I've no idea. It's neither entertaining, nor engrossing, nor thought provoking. It's a contextless and unenlightening snapshot of a man who's only interest outside work is getting as much no-strings sex as he possibly can. And get it he does. That gets tedious very quickly. There is in fact some very good acting and camera work on show so it's not like there's a lack of talent in the film. It is, however, way over-hyped and it's sure to disappear from your consciousness faster than Brandon from one of his many encounters. And that's saying something.

UglyGeezer

I really liked it. it's the saddest film I've seen in a very long time, but its done well and doesn't destroy you as a viewer. The story of someone trying to fill a very large very painful hole with shallow vacuous sex. It's tragic and and very compelling. Performances are absolutely stunning. Would have given it 4/5, but giving a five for all the daft one stars, that's just silly. The film section of this site has turned very trollish sadly. As for the porn comments, absolutely ridiculous. I've seen a lot more graphic in mainstream cinema, full frontal male/female nudity is the most graphic it shows.

UglyGeezer

I really liked it. it's the saddest film I've seen in a very long time, but its done well and doesn't destroy you as a viewer. The story of someone trying to fill a very large very painful hole with shallow vacuous sex. It's tragic and and very compelling. Performances are absolutely stunning. Would have given it 4/5, but giving a five for all the daft one stars, that's just silly. The film section of this site has turned very trollish sadly. As for the porn comments, absolutely ridiculous. I've seen a lot more graphic in mainstream cinema, full frontal male/female nudity is the most graphic it shows.

Tom

If portraying someone who can't connect emotionally with another human being makes a film great, perhaps McQueen should put Mitt Romney in his next film.

Jools

No, Captain Von Trapp! Put it away! What would Maria say? Think about the children!

Grim and depressing

Yes Fassbender is wonderful, and I actually liked Carey Mulligan in this, too. I also loved the music, and some scenes, particularly that date scene in the restaurant. But it was pretty grim. So I guess it worked? Maybe?

david glowacki

This is a film that invades your mind more after the ending rather than during..It has some great scenes,such as Marianne (who delivers the finest acting) in the restaurant with the sex addict..Or the tender scene by Sissy,his sister to try to reach out to him in her lonliness and his social alienation at the end...l know l am in a minority here but l did find Fassbender a touch too wooden in his acting...Mcqueen is trying too much to be different when he chooses his music for various scenes and they just did not work too well for me...Curiously the guy is addicted to sex,but does not take drugs and is a controlled drinker and eats healthily and jogs??? Overall a worthy film but Mcqueen will make better,less self conscious films further down the line

Mike

Précis: Brandon ****s a lot. . Audience reaction on the stairs ahead of me on the way out:- . Guy 1 to Guy 2: “What was that about?� . Girl 1 to Girl 2: “God, I was so bored�. . One star - or 3/10 - but mainly for the photography.

Ian

The sense of impending doom started when I saw the funded by the UK Film Council and the National Lottery and this lived up the the normal poor standard of UK Public Sector movies. There is little plot and long silences with mood music seem to be the chosen means of linking the sex scenes and even the sex scenes are poorly shot and repetitive. To cut the whole thing down to a simple level. Brandon can't get enoough sex with strangers of either sex and .if he can't get that he is always at it with himself. Both the lead characters are empty emotional vacuums where sex substitues for the absence of love and affection. Brandon can't perform with people he cares for as is shown by the scenes with his secretary. The whole thing left me greatly disapointed and to me this is a marmite movie. It seems that people either love it or hate it. I don't love it and I don't really hate it I was just bored by it,

Sutton

Superb acting, camerawork and direction. An intriguing study on emotion and relationships, or lack of them. I came out of the cinema thinking it was a good film and the more I reflect on moments in the film, I realise that this is one of the films of 2012. Fassbender and Mulligan (apart from the singing) are brilliant.

Cinephile

Xtine said.."Dreadful cinematography, horrendous editing"? Xtine also said "God-awful music score and positively anti-intellectual"?! Im actually convinced you have a personal gripe against the director or something. It's ok to say you don't like, to then beg others not to see it is very small. You have a lot of hat in your hear, please crawl back inside your hole, It's an awesome movie yes there's tons of sex in it but so what. There is a meaning to it all its not all just happening for the sake of entertainment or 'art'

paulrou

4 stars. The TO review is spot on. I can a strong reading of this film, it that it is a character study – I think we always follow the Fassbender character during the film. Mostly in real time. Without revealing the back story. So complex and left me feeling slightly uneasy. My Wife fell asleep three times and was astounded that I had took her to a porn film. Though I did not feel this, as the direction and acting did not fit any standard ‘porn narrative.’ Though I would not have wanted to go and see it with my Mum. Or on a first date. Brett Easton Ellis said something about being more interesting if the character enjoyed the sex – I think on that level, the ‘porn interpretation’ would have been harder to re-but. And maybe even more disturbing. A narrative where the main character is not in control of his own mind and his real hidden desires . Some viewers will be uneasy and unsatisfied that all ends are not tied up – just like are not tied up for the Fassbender character at the end. And for many of us watching.

Alfredo

Sex is important in our lives. And this movie is about sex and the single man. Fair enough. He does what he does. Millions of single people do that. And then his sister appears to complicate his life and make the movie more interesting. In brief, it's a very enjoyable film, but unfortunatley the screenwriter and the director wanted to keep the story simple. So simple that at the end you ask yourself: Is that it ?. Anyway, Fassbinder, the German actor, and the Mulligan girl are very good in their roles. So is the dialogue.

Tom

If only someone had pushed them BOTH in front of the train during the 'hat scene', it would've saved a lot of people from having to sit through the rest of this pointless clunker. Without a doubt, the biggest waste of male frontal nudity in the history of cinema. LOVE Michael Fassbender. Did NOT LOVE this movie. For anyone who thinks this film represents some modern, cutting-edge, check out 'Paris, Texas' or 'Murmur of the Heart.

Annie

If I want to see a porno film I would have gone with intention to see one-to me this so called film achieved it's goal of pollutioning ones mind with garbage not ART! This should have been XXX rated.

john o sullivan

Like Melancholia you stagger out of the cinema gasping to make sense of what youve seen. With Mcueens backround I imagine its make what you will. I felt it was showing how porn has desenstivised most males to a point normal sex isnt enough. And femails have exageratted it to the point they play to mens fantasies. They were a couple of shots of women preening themselves after sex as if to say thats youre reward now this what I want The scene with his workmate i think had little to with the coke and more to her unactractive underwear, Which curtailed his fantasy There are hints at an abusive father,which doesnt explain why the siblings are at the opposite on the emotional spectrum And apart from the occasional longeurs,every scene made sense including the waiters So a film that ask more questions than supplies answers,Mcqueen is to applauded for taking on such subject matter. Finaly ive got to comment on MF, who cares what nationality he is He is the DDL of this generation.

neelo

Michael fassbender is not british. Why say that he is? Lazy shorthand or igborance? Great movie!!

neelo

Michael fassbender is not british. Why say that he is? Lazy shorthand or igborance? Great movie!!

Joss

@Richard Thompson a person is born with a name, he didn't chose it, nor is he obligated to change it. Your exploitation conspiracy rant is misplaced. Anyway, Shame was a phenomenal film! There's really nothing more I can say that the critics haven't said already. A real masterpiece, a la: Last Tango in Paris.

Show More