In 2008 Steve McQueen made his directorial debut with his first feature length film Hunger. The film is about the Irish Hunger strike and starred Michael Fassbender as the lead, portraying Bobby Sands. That role became Fassbender’s break out role and also made McQueen a director to keep an eye on. Three years later they have teamed up once again to bring us Shame.
Shame is the story of Brandon (Fassbender) who is struggling with his sex addiction. His problems become bigger when his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up unannounced and stays with him indefinitely. Their relationship is a shattered one and one that gets worse and worse the longer Missy stay with Brandon. The film is really straight forward in what it tried to portray, a man struggling with an addiction that so intense that he has to drive away everyone that cares for him.
The film starts off with Brandon (Fassbender) in a subway train staring at a married woman sitting across from him. As the train comes to a stop Brandon gets up and follows her but quickly loses her in the crowd. This is the perfect set up to Shame as it shows Brandon addiction perfectly. The introduction of his sister a few scenes later also shows that their relationship isn’t a normal one. Coming home he hears the shower running, he quietly grabs a bat from his closet and enter the bathroom, to his surprise it’s his sister. It is hinted to that their childhood wasn’t a pleasant one and is the cause for all of their woes but nothing is ever fully explained.
As always Fassbender puts on an incredible performance that has you increasingly invested in the story as it unfolds. Fassbender shows off everything for his portray of Brandon, putting everything on the line physically and emotionally. Mulligan also does a great job as Missy, who seems to have as many problems as Brandon. As his previous film, McQueen shows his subjects in an unflinching and unnerving manner. McQueen has a perfect set of direction which makes viewers fell as passive observers.
Shame certainly isn’t a film for everyone as it contains full frontal nudity by both male and female but it would be a tragic mistake to take this a pornographic or even an erotic film. McQueen has crafted a film that fells like something new and something taboo but really isn’t as Brandon probably has more in common with us then we would like to admit. The difference is the intensity of his addiction, which takes up most of his time and efforts.
Shame is a captivating film that holds your attention till the very end. It’s one of the most honest and courageous films made in years with an outstanding cast that gives it their all. Shame is hard to watch at times but it is a film that should be watched at least once for its daring performances. Overall I would suggested this film to anyone likes to watch a strong drama about human struggle or just anyone who is interested in director McQueen or Fassbender, 3 ½ out of 5.
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