MOVIE REVIEW: "Shame" $10/10

EntertainmentMoviesShame (movie)Michael FassbenderConcertsSteve McQueenMusic

This is a man who has hit rock bottom, who has been there for an extended period of time, and nobody seems to notice, or care enough, to do anything about it.

By now I'm sure you've heard plenty about "Shame's" NC-17 rating. It's fully earned, mostly because of the things that come when demonstrating Brandon Sullivan's addiction to sex. But, like most addictions, it is just a symptom of much deeper pain. Michael Fassbender's crushing performance gives us a window into that world with every passing glance.

There is nothing sexy about the sex in "Shame." Brandon has gotten to a point where having an orgasm is like the rest of us taking a swig out of a drinking fountain. While we wipe off a public toilet seat before using it for its intended purposes, he does the same before masturbating. He has thousands of pornographic magazines in his apartment. His work computer is loaded with XXX material. There is a naked woman on webcam waiting for him when his laptop is opened.

His boss David (James Badge Dale) is the closest thing he has to a friend, and I use that term very loosely. When Brandon's also-clearly-wounded sister comes to town (played by Carey Mulligan), Brandon and David go to see her singing at a cocktail lounge. David wastes no time in hooking up with her. They make out during the cab ride home, as Brandon painfully stares out the window. He's been here before and knows where it's heading, and he's going there alone.

Director Steve McQueen is careful never to let us in to the exact orginis of all of this pain, but the deep moments between Mulligan and Fassbender are riveting scenes. They don't need to spell out exactly what happened to them, we know something did. And it was more than likely just as horrible as what we're seeing in front of our eyes.

McQueen is also careful when it comes to sexual encounters in the film. They are extremely explicit - the NC-17 is well-earned. But together with the way they are shot, the score that hangs over the images, and Fassbender's glances of pleading despair, McQueen makes it near impossible to be aroused during these scenes. I caught myself shaking my head numerous times during Brandon's insane bender near the end of the film, mumbling a "aw, don't do it" or two.

Here we are, as audience members, with a front row seat to a man's complete meltdown. I felt shameful watching some of this, which is no doubt the point.

The movie sort of ends where it began. Brandon is left with a choice, we hope he makes the right one. But the multiple scars in the previous scene insinuate that this playlist is doomed to remain on repeat.

What a shame.

"Shame" is one you won't be able to shake off for a while. It earns a Leshock Value of $10 out of a possible $10.

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