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Shame ~ A Capsule Movie Review

Shame ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp

Shame is an English movie with an English director with a German leading man playing the part of an American. Handsome mid-thirties New Yorker Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) seems to have it all. He has a high-powered job and an upscale apartment with a spectacular view of the New York skyline. He has something else, though, and it is the one thing that defines him more than anything else: He is a sex addict. When he isn’t engaged in sexual activity, he’s seeking sexual activity, gratifying himself (you get the picture), or watching porn on the Internet. He is consumed with sex and because he’s so attractive he has no shortage of sexual partners.

We see after a while, though, that no matter how much sex Brandon has, it’s never enough. While constantly seeking gratification of his appetites, he is never gratified. He is an empty shell of a man, a lost soul. He can only relate to people on a sexual level and, once the sex act is finished, there is nothing.

Brandon’s irresponsible younger sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up one day at his apartment. She has an unhappy past and is a singer of sorts (in a nightclub scene she sings a very slow, bluesy version of “New York, New York”). She has no place to stay and Brandon allows her to stay with him for a few days. He finds, though, that she is an unwelcome burden; she encroaches on his ability to satisfy his appetites. She makes a play for Brandon’s boss and, once the initial conquest is over, she continues to pursue the boss, even though he is a married man with children. Through his sister, Brandon begins to see himself as a he really is and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Shame has an NC17 rating, meaning that the sex scenes are too graphic for an R rating. The sex scenes are not there for titillation, though, as in most movies that venture into that territory. The sex scenes are an integral, organic part of what’s going on in Shame; they are so much a part of the character of Brandon Sullivan that we wouldn’t see his pain—or his shame—without them.

Copyright © 2012 by Allen Kopp

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