MFR Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Shame did the rare thing of producing a 2 minute trailer containing a genuinely fascinating detail of emotional depth which has made me anxious to see this film for months. If you haven’t seen the trailer, just watch it. Not only is it a great piece of trailer making but it’s also true to the style and tone of the film so there’s no disappointment. Finally, it’s here in full. All of it. And believe me, none of Michael Fassbender remains hidden.
This is Steve McQueen’s follow-up to debut Hunger, a critically acclaimed film he received many plaudits for. Here he shows once more his boldness and real filmmakers eye to give his work a directorial style. Shame stars Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a sex addict unable to control his sex life. Although I prefer Fassbender’s performance, in a way his character reminded me of Ryan Gosling in Drive. Like the Driver, Brandon is presented like a blank slate, with the audience getting to know his character through cold icy stares and small, subtle details which is how much of the story is told. Brandon’s sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) is a singer and decides to stay with him in his apartment and any control he might have still had over his life seems to unravel completely.
There are two incredibly broken and tortured characters and Fassbender and Mulligan act the hell out of their roles. There’s also a really great performance from James Badge Dale who plays Brandon’s boss, who shows a real magnetic realism with his character’s cool, nonchalant mannerisms as he tries to chat up women. But what’s also got to be said is just how good Fassbender and Mulligan are as these two damaged characters. There’s a reason why these two are some of the hottest properties in movie making and that’s because they can bloody well act. There’s a lot of inner depth behind this film that’s left unsaid and that might frustrate some viewers but the quality of the performances ensures you never want to take your eyes off it. These are two actors really going the extra mile to give it everything and you just have to admire such talent. And if you’re not already racing to the cinemas then go anyway just to see Carey Mulligan sing ‘New York, New York’. Honestly, everytime I feel this woman couldn’t be anymore fantastic she seems to prove me wrong.
This is a film with an unrelenting boldness and strength. Even so, by the end of the film I still wasn’t quite sure what to make of any of the characters but it has a real uncomfortable quality throughout. McQueen is uncompromising in his story telling. It’s a film that receives very little plot and even less backstory so to pull it off with such style is quite an achievement.
Shame is out now in the UK and USA. Certificate 18 (UK). Running time 101 mins.
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Review by David Rank