Films: Shame

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  • Wednesday, November 09, 9:15 PM
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United Kingdom, 2011, 99 Minute Running Time
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Mystery, Psychological
Programs: Contemporary World Cinema, Special Presentations
Language: English

DIRECTOR: Steve McQueen
Producer: Iain Canning, Emile Sherman
Editor: Joe Walker
Screenwriter: Steve McQueen, Abi Morgan
Cinematographer: Sean Bobbitt
Principal Cast: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Hannah Ware, Amy Hargreaves

For the handsome matinee idol Michael Fassbender, portraying a helpless New York sex addict who's being destroyed by his own desire was not easy. The full-frontal nudity and the explicit acts certainly weren't. “You just have to jump into it,” the X-Men: First Class star says. “Make sure that everybody involved is comfortable.”

For all its candor, Shame is no exercise in mere pornography. In Hunger, the first collaboration between Fassbender and artist-turned-film-director Steve McQueen, the actor found his psyche stripped naked as he played the dying Irish Republican Army hunger striker Bobby Sands. That happens again here in his disturbing portrait of Brandon, a Manhattan business executive whose compulsive seductions in bland hotel rooms, joyless frolics with hookers, and plunges into Internet porn are not just creepy but indicative of a human soul descending into ever-deeper desperation. The only woman Brandon is close to? His needy sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan), who arrives in town to stay with some serious baggage of her own.

Not since Taxi Driver have the streets and subways of New York taken on such an ominous tone, and Fassbender's spellbinding performance here is every bit the equal of DeNiro's in that classic. In England, The Guardian gave Shame its due: “This is fluid, rigorous, serious cinema: the best kind of adult movie.”

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