Shame (NC-17) 101 minutes B-
Sex & the City through the eyes of a Predator
Starring Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, Lucy Walters, Nicole Beharie and James Badge Dale
How is it that a film about sex addiction is this unsexy...? Well, that's one of the things that makes Shame so effective, so uncomfortable and so real. It's not an "entertaining" film, and it's certainly not for everyone. It is however, an intriguing voyeuristic study of sexually addiction.
Brandon Sullivan (Fassbender), is a sexually compulsive New Yorker who is surprisingly dull aside from his obsession. Early into the film we observe Brandon paying for sex, pleasuring himself in the shower, showing up late for work, pleasuring himself in the office restroom, and getting his work computer confiscated because he unknowingly downloaded several viruses. It's obvious he has a problem; but, like all good addicts he hides it well and maintains his predatory routine without any major complications. Until, that is, his capricious sister (Mulligan) crashes his stylish, one bedroom, Manhattan apartment. She's needs a place to stay indefinitely, and as film critic Keith Uhlich so wonderfully wrote, "it majorly f*cks up his mojo because he suddenly has to give a damn about someone."
The film really takes off when Brandon's sister, Sissy, enters the picture. She is equally as damaged as her brother. Her arrival sets off a chain of events that brings Brandon's addiction and her problems to a dangerous crescendo. It took awhile for me to sink my teeth into this film, but when I did it really lingered. Shame is a hard film to swallow. But Fassbender's vivid portrayal, Mulligan's rendition of "New York, New York" (the best I've ever heard), and a sordid peak into the misunderstood world of sexual addition, makes this ambitious film worth exploring if you're curious about such things. Otherwise, I suggest you proceed with caution.