77: Shame (or as I like to call it ‘Michael Fassbender’s Penis’)

Shame – December 2, 2011
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan
Written by: Abi Morgan, Steve McQueen
Directed by: Steve McQueen

The plot: “In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life — which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction — is disrupted when his sister Sissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.” – IMDB

My thoughts: This is the perfect film to take your special someone to see! It’s cute without being too fluffy, romantic without being too mushy, funny without being too try-hard-hilarious, and it’s sexy without being too controversial.

I’m completely lying. If you’ve only recently started seeing someone and you’re not trying to make it too intense so soon, don’t see Shame. This is a genuine interaction I heard while sitting in the lobby of the lovely Athena Cinema:

Guy: Hey…you haven’t seen The Artist yet, have you?
Girl: No. Why?
Guy: I uh…I heard that Shame is pretty controversial and I don’t want to be the freak guy who brings you to a porno.
Girl: HAHAHAHAHAHAH OKAY. (editor’s note: seriously, she laughed way too hard and spoke way too loudly.)

I’ll be real, I was a bit giddy about seeing Michael Fassbender in all his naked glory (honestly, were they just teasing us with keeping all the good parts in the shadows? It was just plain cruel!) but was pleasantly surprised with what a good film it was.

This is not to say that it was uplifting. Not even remotely. In fact, it was kind if dismal and made me feel especially depressed, but everything was spectacular. Carey Mulligan didn’t come off like a mousey, boring English girl. She was interesting and loud and fun (in a twisted sort of way) as Sissy. And Fassbender was perfectly tormented and ashamed (imagine, a character feeling ashamed in a movie called Shame!), while still maintaining some really human qualities that made it easy (well, easier) for the audience to sympathize with his character, Brandon.

I’m also going to warn you, Shame is probably not an ideal movie to see with a sibling or family member. Not just because of the full-frontal nudity or the graphic sex scenes but there are some incestuous undertones that definitely add some interesting, complex layers to the story but would also make for an uncomfortable two hours with a family member. However, I found such undertones to be the most important part of the film – they lend themselves to the reading of the film and some kind of understanding of Bradon and Sissy.

I personally feel that the two siblings come from some sort of terrible home life (as Mulligan’s Sissy says in the film, “We’re not bad people, we just come from a bad place,”) and because of that, they sough solace in each other. Whether or not they had sex at some point, I’m not sure. However, I think that they are in love with each other and they know it’s not right but that’s how they feel. Brandon’s sex addiction and Sissy’s depression/wild lifestyle stem from this fact.

Anyway, I highly recommend it. If you’re not comfortable with graphic sex or if Blue Valentine‘s level of depression was too much for you, Shame probably won’t be your cup of tea.

Stars: 5/5


One thought on “77: Shame (or as I like to call it ‘Michael Fassbender’s Penis’)

  1. Great review and thanks too for reporting on that funny interaction for the lobby. I can totally see that happening.

    I think you’re right about the past family dynamics, although I hadn’t considered the possibility that they might have slept together. I do think that the two of them together really do show two different reactions of sides to the same thing: One of them seeking emotional connection and the other one rejecting it, etc.

    By the way, I found your site on the LAMB and noticed that you are a new member. Welcome!

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