Shame is the kind of movie that gets all kinds of critical praise, wins various awards, and leaves most viewers wondering why in the hell somebody would like such a miserable story. This stars Michael Fassbender as a sex addict who is unable to form real human relationships though he has no problem getting laid. He does a couple of full frontal nude scenes, too. It’s rated NC-17.
This movie is about a guy who is addicted to sex. He’s so bad off that he can’t form real relationships so his human interaction is mainly just a series of encounters. When he’s not surfing porn at work, he’s at home engaging in online sex chats and video cam rooms. In between all that he regularly rubs one out in the office bathroom. He often hooks up with real women because the real thing is the prize. His entire existence is based around the next score or fix, just like an addict. Things get complicated when his sister decides to pay an unexpected visit and is an unwelcome guest in his fortress of masturbatory solitude.
What this movie really drives home is the idea that Fassbender’s character no longer enjoys sex but is still addicted to it. The only times he even seems happy is when he’s putting the charm onto a woman, but he goes into a depression as soon as they get done. It’s like he’s coming down off a high as soon as the sex is finished. There is a very graphic threesome that’s about as empty and emotionless as it gets, and the minimalist soundtrack during the scene really drives home the point and this guy is engaging in this activity just for the sake of doing it.
My problem with this movie is that there is no character development. What you see in this movie is a brief look into the life of a person with this so-called affliction. You see the ups and downs (figuratively and literally) of his addiction, but he never really learns anything or goes anywhere. The title of the movie is supposed to imply that he wants to change, but he sure doesn’t try very hard. I have never cared much for stories like this where you only get a glimpse into a complicated life and nothing becomes of it. To me, that’s not storytelling. That’s just a piece of an incomplete story. Show me how he got there and how he gets out, good or bad. I don’t want to just see the middle part.
Michael Fassbender deserves some credit for taking on this role and exposing himself. He’s fearless on camera and it comes out in his mostly emotionless performance. Only a handful of known actors have been brave enough to do a full frontal scene, especially with a close-up shot like this movie offers. Carey Mulligan is good as his emotionally scarred sister and the two have some odd scenes together. James Badge Dale (The Pacific) adds some energy to the proceedings by playing Fassbender’s hyper boss who hooks up with Mulligan, much to Fassbender’s dismay.
In the end, Shame is movie that’s both unforgettable and tough to recommend. It does a good job of showing the emptiness of addiction, but at the same time makes itself undesirable. I though Requiem for a Dream did a much better job of portraying the insanity of addiction. This movie is depressing anti-porn.
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