Sex addiction is a curious condition because you can argue that every adult suffers from the state at some point in their life. Hell, from the minute most boys hit puberty it’s hard to find a blanket or towel that doesn’t have to be broken open. Unlike drug addiction, alcoholism or watching ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’, the side effects of sex addiction aren’t as damaging to the wellbeing of the addict. Can you really sympathise with a person who is indulging their basic primal instincts? ‘Shame’ aims to answer that question and the results are mixed with an interesting character study of man deep in sexual addiction.
Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) is a businessman living in New York City who spends his time indulging his sexual desires. His routine is interrupted by the arrival of his troubled sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan).
Fassbender is outstanding in ‘Shame’ and the film is driven by his performance. For a character that spends most of the film in pleasure, there is a lot of pain in his performance and you believe that you’re watching a character caught in the grip of a serious addiction. It’s a fearless effort that is deserving of awards praise that seems to have well and truly passed by. Mulligan is a little grating and tries too hard to deliver an edgy performance that’s a little out of her league.
‘Shame’ is a film with very dark themes and director Steve McQueen is not afraid to explore the shadows. McQueen’s direction is excellent, let down only by a few self-indulgent moments that includes letting Mulligan destroy the Frank Sinatra song ‘New York, New York’. McQueen doesn’t hide anything from the audience and you’re fully immersed in the flesh filled world of Fassbender’s character.
The original music of Harry Escot adds a foreboding nightmarish feel to the world and very cold cinematography by Sean Bobbitt gives washes out the vibrancy of New York City.
‘Shame’ isn’t a film for everyone and it’s not the best pick for Grandma’s Sunday afternoon out. It’s a challenging film but worth seeing for the combo of Fassbender and McQueen.
‘Shame’ is now showing.
The Popcorn Junkie