Oh my! I’m not really sure who – if anyone- you can actually see this movie with. Suffice it to say, it’s not a date movie. Or a family movie. Or a fun fantasy flick. It’s dark and disturbing – and provocative – in a Black Swan sort of way. I didn’t particularly like Black Swan, despite the Oscar-worthy performance of Natalie Portman. Same goes for Shame. It’s not my cup of tea (at all), but the performances – especially from Michael Fassbender and Carrie Mulligan – are quite superb. So should you see it? Maybe – in the privacy of your own home when it comes out on DVD! But in a theater??? That’s a tough call. Here’s why:

Shame is rife with nudity, sex and psychological drama intended for mature audiences only. It is, after all, rated NC-17. Fassbender plays Brandon, a 30-something New Yorker who struggles with a compulsive addiction to sex. His tenuous efforts to keep his private life – and his personal demons- separate from his professional persona start to unravel when his troubled sister Sissy (Mulligan) shows up on his doorstep. Her presence stirs memories of a painful past and pushes Brandon – and his addiction- to an even darker level.

It’s hard not to go the way of double-entendres and full-frontal flippery when describing this movie – especially since Fassbender is pretty darn good looking and this role is a far cry from his turn as Magneto in X-Men: First Class (which I happened to like by the way). But in truth, Shame is very raw and depressing, and Brandon’s addiction is way more sad than sexy. So I wouldn’t want to mislead you into thinking this indie is even remotely mainstream in its appeal. It’s just not. And even if Fassbender’s performance is potentially Oscar-nomination-worthy, I think the risqué material makes it highly unlikely that the Academy will go all Portman on him. I think the “three-way” at the climax of the movie (oops – shame on me) may have gone a bit over the top. That said, if you liked Black Swan, I suspect you’ll like Shame as well. Just pick your movie-mates carefully, or wait until it comes out on DVD or pay-per-view.


3 thoughts on “Shame”
  1. I saw this film a few weeks ago in NYC. This review is accurate. The movie is disturbing and hard to watch but worth it. There’s a long scene at the Boom-Boom room when his sister sings a very popular song about NY that will knock you socks off. That song alone makes the film worth watching.

  2. The song is the best thing about this film. I was a lot more appreciative of Black Swan , which actually had a story. I agree there are some very good performances, but the script is just not up to their level. Shame feels an awful lot like porn wrapped in an art film to me.

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