FILM: Shame

By Josie Gardiner

There are a myriad of reasons to go and see Shame: the brilliance of director Steve McQueen’s last film, ‘Hunger’, Michael Fassbender’s bottom, a double Bafta nomination and a series of glowing reviews. Which isn’t to say that it’s entirely possible that, like me, you won’t enjoy it much.

‘Shame’ follows the life of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a successful New York businessman with a swanky apartment and a sex addiction. His home life consists of prostitutes and pornography, his work life of masturbation in the office toilets, and even his commute is an opportunity to silently seduce women on the subway. When his depressive younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) arrives at his apartment, uninvited, and asks to stay, Brandon acquires an unwanted witness to his lifestyle and his obvious misery. Her presence rattles the very hollow cage in which we’ve seen him live, and drives him to the point of breakdown.

Intriguing as the premise is, the film is strangely remote. This is family dysfunction without explanation or resolution. We are never given the back-story to help us understand, or even like, either character. The film doesn’t encourage you to judge Brandon, but nor does it let you feel any sympathy for him.  It’s an interesting idea, beautifully acted and shot, but somehow underdeveloped: rather than leaving me food for thought, instead it left me a little numb.

Shame is currently showing at The Ritzy