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Shame

Michael Fassbender in shame
5
Sunday December 18th, 2011

In Shame Michael Fassbender gives an unforgettable performance to rank with the best screen portrayals of compulsive, addictive behavior.  Fassbender is Brandon Sullivan, a sexual satyr. Preoccupied with sex he moves effortlessly from sex clubs to prostitutes and computer porn. During subway commutes he is a borderline stalker as he fixates on an attractive female passenger (Lucy Walters). His boss played by James Badge Dale is no prude but even he's aghast at the amount of porn uncovered on Brandon's office PC.

When his tortured sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), invades his little narcissistic bubble he seethes with resentment. She is sinking fast but any emotional contact is anathema to someone as detached as Brandon who only sees an impediment to his pleasure pursuits.

Mulligan's vulnerability is beautifully punctuated by her sad, poignant rendition of New York New York sung without a whisper of triumphantism.

There's good support from Nicole Beharie as a woman Brandon desires until he begins to actually care about her as a person.

With an NC-17 MPAA rating Shame is a work of rare courage and brutal honesty for adult audiences. Fassbender and Mulligan deliver great performances and Steve McQueen directs with uncompromising skill. Sean Bobbitt's dark, gritty camerawork underscores Brandon's soulless existence. A must see for serious filmgoers.