Shame: "You Come In Here And You Are A Weight On Me.You're A Burden"

Director: Steve McQueen
Writer:    Abi Morgan
               Steve McQueen
Starring: Michael Fassbender
               Carey Mulligan
               James Badge Dale
               Nicole Beharie
               Hannah Ware
Rating:    *****

Release Date: Out Now

In 2008 British Director Steve McQueen burst onto the scene with his breakout movie Hunger, a film about he death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. For his second film, Shame, he explores the life of Brandon (Fassbender) a New York bachelor who suffers from a sever case of sex addiction. When his youger sister Sissy (Mulligan) makes an unwelcome visit to him in Manhattan, he has to deal with both his addiction and his off-the-rails sister, which has a harsh affect on him.. It's more conventional than Hunger, but it's just as courageous and still looks at a hard subject without shying away or making it more attractive.
Despite the film being about a man with a sexual addiction, it is not about sex addiction, people make it sound like a film about an issue but that is far from the truth. It's a film that explores and studies a character that uses their addiction to express some unknown and unspoken childhood memory. Brandon is a sophisticated, slick and charming but secretive man who lives alone in an clinical, characterless flat and works in an aggressively male corporate environment. Away from his miltiary routines, he enjoys random encounters with women, hires prostitutes, cruises gay spa's, indulges in porn and masturbates at work. His ways of relieving himself mask a dark, underlying issue that, in this film, is only hinted and at not revealed.

The way McQueen highlights events in Brandon's life is never glamorous or quiet, it always cold and harsh. The fierce approach means that no matter how many bedrooms we see, and no amout of flesh writhing around is able to become erotic and is just cold and meaningless. There are scenes of exciting intensity, such as when Brandon catches the eye of a stranger on a train and we follow their dark, sexual flirtation or when Brandon goes jogging through the city in a single shot. There’s one superb sequence in which McQueen cuts between a fight outside a bar, its aftermath and the flirty encounter that comes from it. These scenes don't sound exciting, but the performances and filming style bring them to life and create harsh and intriguing sequences.

Brandon’s volatile sister, Sissy's arrival isn't a welcome one, and their relationship is strained and awkward. She has no qualms about taking Brandon's married work colleague (Dale) back to her brother’s apartment and bedding him, which just shows what kind of girl she is. Brandon tries to keep a distance between them, yet Sissy tries to keep close, even crawling under his duvet at night seeking comfort. At one point she disturbs him pleasuring himself in his bathroom angering him, so he leaps on her, naked apart from a towel around his waist. Mulligan has a truly spellbinding scene in which she sings a slow version of ‘New York, New York’ in a city bar. Mcqueen keeps the camera close on her face throughout, creating an uncomfortablly close and real scene. Something awaful and disturbing has clearly happened to the sibling when they were children, but we can only imagine what.. McQueen gives little away as he wants us to judge behaviour not backstories. There is a hint of an incestuous relationship there, but as all we can do is guess we never truly know.

I like the writers decision to never really reslove the story fully, and leaving us wondering so many things. The film ends with many questions and although I liked the end, I actually would've prefered the film to end with an earlier, more dark and emotional scene, than the way it did end.

Despite that one tiny issue, the film really is tremendous and a true success. Shame is only interested in these exact moments of one man’s world and inviting us into that world without any real explanations. It just show's how terrific McQueen is as a director that even with a film that is very cold and uncaring, and with two characters that are harsh and almost heartless, you still become intrigued and invloved, and want to know more.

Shame - Trailer