Shame review

Rarely have I seen a relatively dialogue-free opening of a film hold such an intense atmosphere as Shame. In fact, dialogue is quite sparse throughout the entire length of the film and the audience is instead hooked upon the internal dialogue behind Michael Fassbender's unfathomably piercing eyes. Speaking of length (chortle 1)... Fastboner (chortle 2), apologies, I mean Fassbender, has provoked a media frenzy with his shamelessly (chortle 3) stripped-down performance.

The film follows Brandon (Fassbender), a successful mid-thirties man living in New York. There is little given away about his back story and that of his troubled sister Sissy (Mulligan), other than that they are from Ireland, grew up in New Jersey and Sissy has a history of self harm. The story follows Brandon's sex addiction and the effect of his affliction on others in his life.

Fassbender perfectly highlights the internal struggle of dealing with what is clearly a mental illness. Every movement and facial expression has been so well thought out and honed that you become completely immersed in Brandon's strife. Carey Mulligan as Sissy is a good match in talent for Fassbender, who is well-endowed (chortle 4) with incredibly proficient acting skills. I thought that she would struggle against the ingenious but relatively lesser-known actor, but their chemistry was truly magnificent and held up fantastically well from both. Fassbender will be a household name very soon as he is credible with films such as Hunger and Shame, but also partakes in big-budget films such as X Men: First Class. Fassbender was incredible as Bobby Sands in Steve McQueen's debut Hunger and I hope that this can become a long running duo like that of Johnny Depp and Tim Burton. Fassbender and McQueen clearly suit each other in terms of aesthetic and style of film making.

The best scene in the film, perhaps in the entire year of film and potentially one of my favourite scenes on celluloid to date is that of Mulligan singing a stripped down version of New York, New York. Mulligan's connection with every single word that she sings and Fassbender's heartbreaking reaction evokes so much emotion without a single line of original dialogue. I had goosebumps when a single tear ran down Fassbender's face and he shamefully tried to wipe it away without anybody seeing it. There is something incredibly raw about how both of these actor's completely lay themselves bare in these characters; it feels like they're showing their own vulnerabilities in front of our eyes.

I have mentioned that Brandon is a sex addict, but the nudity in the film is not of an attractive nature but instead is a necessarily gritty view of this world. There's not once where you think that if Brandon was honest with his buddies about the extent of his affliction that they would high-five him and clap him on the back. Brandon is clearly distressed and in a particularly lengthy view of his threesome with two female prostitutes, he breaks down mid-coitus.

There are tender moments within a film that is both vulnerable and bleak. It is aesthetically beautiful and highlights McQueen's artistic background. I have a strong feeling that I will remember this film in detail long after I have viewed it. This is not going to be like Gwyneth Paltrow's upcoming sex addiction comedy "Thanks for Sharing", but I believe that it might prevail as one of the top films of the year.

Official Site
Shame at IMDb

Justin Bateman is a Screenjabber contributor

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