Michael Fassbender in Shame (2011)

It is a Shame

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a man who to many leads a normal life; he goes to work, goes out with colleagues for drinks and heads home to his apartment. The thing what no one knows is the he is a sex addict; a man who picks up women who might sleep with him, pays for hookers, pleasures himself in a toilet cubicle at work, watches porn on the internet and pleasures himself in the shower. He has no control over his addiction but then his sister (Carey Mulligan), who he has tried to avoid, forces her way into his life and apartment not only forcing him to try and control his addiction but live in fear that she will find out about his shameful little secret.

Warning do not watch this movie when you are about to sit down to eat as what you see may put you off your food. What I am about is the sight of a naked Michael Fassbender walking around and swinging in the air, not something you really want to see as you are eating cheese on toast. The thing is that it is shocking and so in some ways is the rest of "Shame" which has Fassbender literally putting it out there for all to see, not just physically but also when it comes to his character. It is shall we say a very powerful performance which if you enjoy movies which force you to observe and read in between the lines speaks volumes as we get to understand this characters psychological issues.

Carey Mulligan in Shame (2011)

Fassbender is not the only one who puts it out there with Carey Mulligan also appearing naked which is just as surprising as Fassbender's naked strolls around the apartment. And like Fassbender Mulligan also delivers a character which requires you to observe and read in between the lines. When you combine these two actors you have a very interesting character driven drama with a certain shock value.

But then there is something else which "Shame" has and that is a certain style which isn't going to appeal to everyone. I don't mean the shock factor or that it demands that you analyse the characters but a pretentious slowness which for me is not needed. A scene where Brandon and a colleague go to a bar to listen to Sissy sing is so slow and so not needed that it edges the movie towards being pretentious. Now there is a pay off to this scene involving Brandon but it doesn't need to take an age to get to it. And there are more of these scenes where the focus is too much.

What this all boils down to is that "Shame" has a brave storyline and brave performances from Fassbender and Mulligan but it suffers due to a style which too frequently over steps the mark in to being pretentious.