Shame

What is it with director Steve McQueen and his desire for punishing Michael Fassbender’s body and soul? In his first film, Hunger (2008), McQueen subjected the star to starvation and now he’s turning him into a sex addict who goes through hell. Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are exceptionally good as a brother and a sister who are both damaged; she’s desperately seeking intimacy while he’s constantly (and joylessly) chasing orgasms. As a drama about addiction, this film doesn’t really separate itself from many similar screen portrayals, but McQueen hooks us by slowly (and very visually and physically) forcing us under the skin of Brandon’s problem.

2011-Britain. 101 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Iain Canning, Emile Sherman. Directed by Steve McQueen. Screenplay: Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan. Cinematography: Sean Bobbitt. Editing: Joe Walker. Cast: Michael Fassbender (Brandon Sullivan), Carey Mulligan (Sissy Sullivan), James Badge Dale (David Fisher), Nicole Beharie, Hannah Ware.

Venice: Best Actor (Fassbender). European Film Awards: Best Cinematographer, Editor.

Last word: “For our research, Abi and I wanted to speak to experts in the field, and no one in London would talk to us. Then we heard about these two women in New York who had studied sex addiction, who introduced to us to a lot of people with this particular affliction. There was one guy, his wife was a very beautiful woman – but there were a thousand other people he’d rather sleep with. It goes back to the availability of sex. It’s like there’s more fatty food in supermarkets, so people get fat. There’s greater accessibility to alcohol, so guess what? More people get pissed. That’s how it is. Everyone wants to get lost a little bit these days – and understandably so.” (McQueen, The Telegraph)

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