Saturday, 14 January 2012


Shame had been on my radar for sometime as it starred Michael Fassbender but I only really started to pay serious attention to the film after he won best actor at the Venice Film Festival.

Despite all the hype the adult content means that Shame is highly unlikely to get a wide release but luckily the Queen’s Film Theatre was giving the film a decent run.

PLOT:  Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a young professional who is addicted to sex.  His highly organised routine is interrupted when his younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) moves in with him causing his addiction to spiral out of control.  END PLOT

Shame is the second offering from the Steve McQueen/Michael Fassbender director/actor partnership and like Hunger, Shame is very much a performance driven film.

The film opens with Brandon on a subway train staring at a young woman.  What starts off as innocent flirting becomes extremely awkward as Brandon’s gazing goes beyond the levels of comfort and the woman leaves the train.  The scene lasted for about 5mins and contained no dialogue but Fassbender was able to command the screen and draw this particular viewer in.  The closing scene mirrored the opening with the exception of a few subtle differences and was a clever way of bringing the film to a quiet end.

Fassbender is absolutely mesmerising with every thought and feeling of Brandon’s being portrayed by his facial expressions to perfection.  Fassbender owned the screen and my eyes were locked on his for the duration of the film. 

I am not a fan of Carey Mulligan as she has overused her understated form of acting to the extent that she is just bland.  In Shame Mulligan was surprisingly good as and she sang a beautiful version of New York.

Fassbender and Mulligan had some fantastic scenes together some of which hinted that their childhood contained some dark times.  Their past was not explored or acknowledged so it was left up to the viewer to draw their own conclusions.

A lot has been made of the sex in Shame and although there was nudity and some extremely graphic sex scenes it never felt that it was crossing any line.   They became more frequent and intense as Brandon started to lose control of his organised life but to be honest they worked in the context of the film. 

McQueen has a very slow directing style with each scene containing very few, if any cuts, and the camera rarely moves.  This helped to give further credence to Fassbender’s acting as some of the scenes contained little dialogue and were solely reliant on his silent performance.  There were a few exceptions with several long tracking shots of Brandon out jogging.  These scenes showed just how gorgeous New York looks on film.

I remember writing not that long ago that David Fincher has a habit of making excellent films that I will only ever view once and as it stands Steve McQueen is also in this category.

The style and the quality of the acting in Shame cannot be faulted but I am hard pressed to give it a rating out of ten as the film would be nothing without the performance of Michael Fassbender. 

Shame is an excellent film but I cannot recommend it to others as people will already know whether or not they have any desire to see it.  I am not a blogger who has the skill to change that which is a pity as it deserves to be watched - if only once.


  1. Not the best review in the world but it was a bloody hard one to write!

  2. I've got a handful of directors like that too K, love their movies but just watch them once. Still need to see Hunger and hope to catch this on video.

  3. Shame and Hunger are both worth a look. Out of the two Hunger is the more difficult watch!