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Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie, Lucy Walters ... see more see more... , Mari-Ange Ramirez , Alex Manette , Hannah Ware , Elizabeth Masucci , Rachel Farrar , Loren Omer , Lauren Tyrrell , Marta Milans , Jake Richard Siciliano , Robert Montano , Charisse Merman , Amy Hargreaves , Anna Hopkins , Chazz Menendez , Carl Low , Calamity Chang , DeeDee Luxe , Stanley Wayne Mathis , Wenne Alton Davis

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apa... read more read more...rtment stirring memories of their shared painful past, Brandon's insular life spirals out of control. -- (C) Official Site

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75% liked it

28,802 ratings


79% liked it

196 critics

DVD Release Date: April 17, 2012

Stats: 3,289 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (3,289)

  • September 6, 2013
    Wasn't quite what I was expecting but certainly a realistic look into a destructive addiction. Perhaps too intense at some points. Even though there were some parts that I felt dragged the film down a bit, I felt the film was pretty shocking and worth watching.
  • February 24, 2013
    A beautifully fulfilling and poignant film on a form of addiction that is never covered in film and is somewhat mocked and neglected in public discourse. A very character driven film, "Shame" is filled with its namesake thanks to a hauntingly brilliant performance from Irishman M... read moreichael Fassbender. Set in the New York City landscape of decadence, gluttony, and sexual ambivalence. It's a perfectly bleak and strangely sterile place and a great setting for a story about a man who is out of his depth. Addicted to pornography, masturbation, and sexual intercourse, Brandon is always struggling to find true love while also juggling his high stress job and getting through his daily struggles with addiction. He has sex with everyone from his co-workers to prostitutes, and while he can easily get through his physical encounters with random strangers he can't make it with someone he truly cares for. Worse than that people are starting to suspect that he is more than what he seems. His sister, who is as messed up as him in another way, has moved in with him and is starting to make his life of meaningless sex and addiction into something even more shameful. He struggles throughout the film to end his sexual deviance and escapades for his own betterment, but it's in his blood, coursing through him in the worst kind of way. His boss is on to him, his sister definitely knows how horrible a time he's going through, and the one person he has connected with in so much time cannot quench his everlasting and salacious thirst. Fassbender gives a thoughtfully pained performance, Mulligan is far from the good girl persona she has previously exhibited, and Nicole Beharie is exceptionally sweet hearted but naive. Just an amazing and overwhelmingly moving film.
  • February 8, 2013
    Shame is an interesting film with lots to chew over. It has a vibe that runs through it - allowing for long sequences that may or may not mean much at all - but its tenor is solid - it certainly believes in the vision that it is showing... for better or worse.

    Moody music and... read more moody performances are at the core here - Michael Fassbinder is marvelous as a sex addict who has intimacy problems; as is his sister, as portrayed by Carey Mulligan. They are a contradiction - Mulligan is needy and ready for a tryst whenever and with whoever, regardless of the cost - just to feed the emptiness that is at the center of her; while Fassbinder is almost a sexual predator in the way he scans a woman, and yet, while desiring the sexual coupling, cannot commit to intimacy (the film does itself a disservice by never explaining why - as if he exists as an entity unto himself - a man with no past or future, living in the eternal now).

    The performances are brave, as is the direction of co-writer and director Steve McQueen, although the floating "now" at the back third of the film remains for me a questionable choice, as are scenes that, quite simply seem to go on for too long (like the long jobbing scene). I was impressed however that McQueen allowed Mulligan the time to sing an entire version of a slow, jazzy New York, New York (and what amazing comping by the pianist!!) - that scene meant next to nothing, and yet was given the full treatment, an odd choice, but one that I enjoyed. All I can think is that this, like so much of the film, does nothing more than set the mood - it is intimate and distant at the same time, just like Fassbinder's character.

    There is a fabulously acted scene between Fassbinder and a co-worker (kudos to Nichole Beharie as said co-worker) as they awkwardly and yet compellingly interact on a date while dining in a restaurant - constantly interrupted by an overbearing waiter, they still circle around each other as each starts to reveal small secrets of who they are. Fassbinder proclaims that relationships are overrated, which sets Beharie back a bit as she announces that she is separated and, from her actions, we believe her to be looking for some kind of bounce back romance - one that will recharge her self esteem. Fassbinder, who is looking for what used to be called "the zipless fuck" (ie, no strings attached emotionally or intellectually) takes a step back when he learns that Beharie is no longer "attached". That he later takes a chance is telling, and that said chance ends in disappointment all the more so. You just wonder what the heck happened to cause him to fear intimacy so much.

    The ending doesn't answer these questions, but does a fair job of showing us a man trapped by his compulsion and, quite frankly, by life. He somehow cares for his sister, in spite of her being a "weight that drags me down". She complicates his compartmentalized life, and yet he is tethered to her, in spite of himself - just as he is tethered to his addiction - substituting the carnal for the real kind of interaction he can't seem to be able to handle. Creepy in many ways - and yet compelling - just as it seems that women can detect his desire and are somehow drawn to it; as the long subway scenes depict... again, both detached and yet intensely intimate, even with no words being said.
  • February 3, 2013
    to present the unpresentible is what modernist art does. postmodernist art is to present the unpresentibility. but in this case, shame is the former. it's about a sex-addict who painfully takes great doses of sex to feel consummated, for emotional alleviation? for a drastic void ... read morehe could never fulfill. he looks dreary, worn-out by them, are his joyrides aren't really joyrides or chamber of endless torments? at least, he's honest to himself without giving you that disgusting sense of chauvinistic complacency on his sexual conquests. he's aware that he's attractive with masculine enigma and quite able to get as many women as he could. he doesn't take pride and he just wants to live and let live, keep things under a functional, seemingly responsible surface of normalcy until his emotionally frail sister invades his apartment to tear that illusionary facade of self-sufficiency apart.

    but the movie doesn't exactly reveal what the hack is troubling this dude who seems to be equipped with everything that makes a glossy yuppie bachelor in new york: young, handsome, indepedent, well-mannered (for most of the time) with a position which pays enough to have a decent apartment and as much paid sexual services as he wishes to have. his achilles' feet are only unravelled by his sister's suicidal attempts, sentimal whining for tender attetnion: "we're not bad people. we just come from bad roots" what is in that pandora's box? (it never tells you! so no climax, and it never really lets you CUM.aye. allegory of sex without pleasure? ha)

    the title of this movei is SHAME, and the guy is really quite decent by heart enough to feel the shame as if his genital is sadistically rotting from over-exhaustions while his heart seeks that masochistic rapture/rupture saturated by shame.
  • December 30, 2012
    'Shame' is just another movie that had a strong performance from their two main character (Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan) but didn't have an interesting story to be told.. The way that Michael Fassbender played Brandon, he looks like he really blend with his character, like... read more he is really a sex addict.. While Carey Mulligan successfully destroyed the good girl image that she had when she first become famous of 'An Education' (which is still one of my favorite movies until this time).. And even both of them show their brave performance without using any clothes in a scene but too bad the Oscars overlooked it.. But from the story of the movie, to be honest I didn't like it at all.. It just feels like the audiences getting to know about a piece of life from a sex addict and the ending didn't conclude anything.. But Steve McQueen did it again with his fame directing technique (a long scene with just one shot that get fame in 'Hunger' and this time he did some scenes that way and it just made me amazed with the performance of Michael Fassbender.. Overall, it's a movie that had a strong performance from their the actors but didn't had an interesting story to be told..
  • November 21, 2012
    Ever since Paul Verhoeven torched his career with Showgirls, the NC-17 rating has been forever associated with soft-core porn. While in Britain 18-certificate films earn their rating and can still be box-office hits (like Dredd 3D), in America the NC-17 is seen as a last resort i... read moref a film cannot be cut to get an R rating - and if it doesn't get that R rating, the chances are that no-one will pay to see it.

    At this point I could launch into a lecture about the perceived infantilism of both the MPAA and the movie-going public; if you want that argument presented coherently and without a hint of snobbery, go and watch This Film Is Not Yet Rated. All I will say is that it is a great... pity that so few people got to see Shame the first time round. Like Showgirls it is so unashamedly explicit that only the highest rating could have sufficed. But while Verhoeven's film has little between its ears other than Elizabeth Berkley's cleavage, this is a bold and powerful work which cements Steve McQueen as a director and Michael Fassbender as a truly great actor.

    Being a film about sex which works hard to turn its audience off, the natural reference point for Shame would be Eyes Wide Shut. Both films have main characters who are urbane, middle-class and seemingly confident, and both Stanley Kubrick and Steve McQueen are exceptional visual craftsmen. In each case we are introduced to a glossy world surrounded on all sides by wealth and success, until an element is introduced which throws the central character's life off-course: in Kubrick's case, it is the wife confessing to adultery, in McQueen's, the arrival of the wayward sister.

    If you wanted to stretch the comparison, you could make the argument that both films are about depicting a form of sexual jealousy. In Kubrick's case, he wanted to explore the destructive effect that jealousy and adultery can have on relationships, reducing sexual satisfaction down to something that is almost banal, to hammer home how self-defeating these desires can be. Shame, on the other hand, depicts jealousy more abstractly, with Brandon's longing for satisfaction not being borne out of revenge.

    It is interesting to note that cinematic attitudes towards nymphomania are often the complete opposite to attitudes in wider Western culture. Films like Horrible Bosses depict female nymphomania as something humorous or even attractive, while in wider society female promiscuity and sexual confidence is frowned upon, to the point where the way that women dress is often used (wrongfully) to justify violence against them. Conversely, male promiscuity in society is almost something to boast about, and yet depictions of promiscuity on film are pretty negative outside of gross-out comedies.

    While it does correspond to these wider trends, at least to some degree, there can be no denying the power of Shame in its depiction of sex addiction. The film is confident enough to avoid romanticising or excusing the lifestyle of its central character; while we are meant to envy Brandon's wealth or success, we are never expected to like him, let alone emulate him. Over the course of the film we see Brandon's lifestyle slowly overtaking the veil of ignorance that surrounds it. He goes from seeming in control to pure, visceral desperation until an emotional break pulls him back from the edge.

    Brandon's addiction is characterised by what Sigmund Freud called a "death drive" - commonly known as thanatos, after the Greek personification of Death. Put simply, our main character is compelled to engage in behaviour which is risky, shameful and ultimately self-destructive. Brandon is searching for the fleeting or unobtainable thrill that is expressed in sexual ecstasy, and the more compulsive he becomes in his search, the further from his goal he gets. The petit mort or orgasm that the character experiences is a microcosm of his state, a fleeting glimpse of his ultimate fate, something which is enticing yet terrifying, preventable yet inevitable.

    Shame spends a lot of its running time showing how distant Brandon is from the people around him. His desire for sexual satisfaction is matched by an inability or unwillingness to be intimate: he has few friends, doesn't return his sister's calls, and cuts straight to the chase when he and his boss go out on the pull. While the latter makes a fool of himself with bad dancing and corny chat-up lines, Brandon bides his time and eventually gets what he wants - or at least, what he wants right then.

    This idea is reinforced by the conversation in the restaurant between Brandon and Mariane. Having arrived late and ordered their food, the two enter into a discussion about marriage, and Mariane spots an elderly couple on the other side of the restaurant, sitting silently. She postulates that they are not talking because they know each other so well that there is no need to say anything; Brandon retorts that they are bored and have simply run out of things to say. It's a lovely microcosm of Brandon's character, displaying his contempt for connection thinly disguised by wit and charm.

    The film also touches on the way that the internet has changed sexual relationships. It takes the basic thesis of The Social Network (that online networking has made us more atomistic) and advances the idea that the instant gratification of online porn has diminished the emphasis we place on marriage and monogamy. Brandon can easily get aroused when the outcome is certain, whether online or in the gay club, but when he is asked to be intimate and personable in the film's only sexy scene, he can only go so far before his insecurities are exposed. The film doesn't argue that the internet is a probable cause for Brandon's afflictions, but it certainly isn't helping matters.

    The film is held together by the stunning performance of Michael Fassbender, who first came to attention through his previous work with McQueen in Hunger. Fassbender is deeply charismatic but has a real sadness to him: his deep blue eyes slowly wander in every conversation, searching desperately for acceptance while trying to keep up a fašade. He gets some good support from Carey Mulligan, who delivers despite having less to work with than she did in Drive. Her slow rendition of 'New York, New York', which moves Brandon to tears, is quite remarkable.

    If you wanted a sound-byte to encapsulate Shame, you might say that it does for sex addiction what Requiem for a Dream did for drug addiction, depicting a destructive force in graphic detail. But this analogy would be misplaced, since McQueen is interested in self-annihilation while Darren Aronofsky also concentrates on existential despair. It also illuminates the problem with Shame, namely that for all its graphic content, it doesn't go quite far enough.

    In Requiem for a Dream, the experience was completely unhinged: the rapid editing, grim storyline and the lengths to which the characters were degraded made it painful to sit through, for all the right reasons. We genuinely got the sense of being in the same spiral as the characters, not knowing where we would end up and coming out feeling depressed but lucky to be alive. Shame has moments where it feels like this, but it also feels like a rigged experiment, perhaps reflecting McQueen's background in visual art. Despite an ambiguous ending and the shock of Sissie's fate, it still feels a little too choreographed or predetermined to completely knock us for six.

    Shame is a bold and intriguing second effort from McQueen with a stunning central performance by Fassbender. It offers audiences a lot to chew on without coming across as a message movie, keeping us focussed on the disintegration of the characters. It is slightly compromised by its sense of distance, and it lacks the level of terrifying desperation offered by Requiem for a Dream. But it's still highly recommended as a work of great power and emotional intelligence.
  • November 12, 2012
    Shame is a unique and disturbing cinematic experience. Director Steve McQueen crafts a poignant and disturbing drama that tells the story of Brandon, a sex addict brilliantly played by Michael Fassbender, This is a different and highly provocative drama that tells the story of ob... read moresession, addition and you see how the main character falls into his addiction. With brilliant direction and effective performances, Shame is a wonderfully constructed drama film that is quite hard to forget. What really stood out for me was the performance of Michael Fassbender; I felt he was perfect for the part. I think it's a pity that this is a film that is fairly obscured, but it's no surprise either due to its extreme sexual content. The film deserves to have more exposure and should be seen by a wider audience. The plot, acting and directing are immaculate and everything falls into place perfectly to create a haunting portrait of addiction and the downward spiral of one man's integrity. This is brilliant filmmaking that is among of the best, most compelling drama films I've seen in quite some time. Although it's extreme in showing sexual addiction, this is a film that film fans shouldn't pass up because of the solid performances and terrific plot. If you enjoy Fassbender's work, this is a must watch. Director Steve McQueen is definitely a director to look out for in the future and he shows us what films are supposed to be. I love his take no prisoners' attitude, and Shame is a powerful, gripping drama that boldly takes risks and delivers an unforgettable film going experience.
  • October 10, 2012
    A bleak, searing portrait of a sex addict that's as much a condemnation of our onanistic, isolating consumer society as it is a human story. It's not preachy, not in the least, but much like American Psycho, Shame parades aberrant behaviour before us and makes it look disturbingl... read morey normal. A powerhouse performance by Michael Fassbender and an eye-opening look at the work of an emerging master, that other Steve McQueen. I'm excited to see more of their work (Hunger).
  • October 3, 2012
    I completely understand what this film is trying to be (and arguably, does a really great job of it) but it's really not my type of film. I found it slow and gratuitous with far too much reading between the lines which could lead the spectator to various, drastically different in... read moreterpretations. Overall, solid script, solid acting and a solid film.
  • July 15, 2012
    Shame is the mesmerizing story of a successful New York business man named Brandon Sullivan, whose extreme appetites for sex, spirals further and further out of control, beyond the accepted norms of society and into desirous, overwhelming addiction.

    Rivetingly played by Michael ... read moreFassbender (who is fast becoming one of my new favourite actors), it's a vehicle for his outstanding talent; granting him all the space he requires to bring out the full force of his thespian arsenal. Alongside, in a vital supporting role, we also find the hauntingly gifted Carey Mulligan, who plays his emotionally unstable sister, who moves in with him at the expense of their already frail sibling relationship.

    As a character-driven drama it is admittedly slow - an attribute which may put some people off, but reward those who have the patience to follow it through. Personally, I didn't mind the relaxed pacing, as it allows you as a viewer to build strong, visceral bridges between yourself and the two leads. Upon reflection in the aftermath, it feels like you've stepped into the lives of two very real human beings.

    Setting the mood and engaging the senses, Harry Escott's delicate music score goes perfect with the imagery and the events we are witnessing. Focused on the lustful and spontanenous escapades of our weighted main character, it's a very graphic film, that is anything but shy to display full-frontal nudity and explicit sexual content. It might be worth knowing if you're the sensitive type.

    As a liberal person, living in a very liberal country, I'm quite used, however, to this kind of raw and outspoken sensualism. It fits the plot and is done in great taste. The only gripe to be mentioned here is The Academy's ignorance in excluding Fassbender from this year's nominations. A disgrace really, as this is one of his finest performances yet.

    To us relishers of dramatic splendor, however, this is a tremendously engrossing character study, whose psychosexual explorations ring amazingly true. Subtle, absorbing and brilliantly directed, Shame is a fantastic achievement by all parties involved - and certainly, unmistakably, has nothing to be ashamed of.

Critic Reviews

David Thomson
June 20, 2013
David Thomson, The New Republic

The film's numb attitude assumes that Brandon's problem is beyond reach or rescue. So why are we watching, except for high-tone misery and something close to pornography? Full Review

Calvin Wilson
January 20, 2012
Calvin Wilson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The film is a raw, unsparing look at the downside of humanity. Full Review

Dave Calhoun
January 10, 2012
Dave Calhoun, Time Out

It reconfirms McQueen as a filmmaker with an unflinching, microscopic gaze on the world. Full Review

Justin Chang
December 29, 2011
Justin Chang, Variety

Few filmmakers have plumbed the soul-churning depths of sexual addiction as fearlessly as British director Steve McQueen has in Shame. Full Review

Tom Long
December 16, 2011
Tom Long, Detroit News

Shame is something of a dirty date that leaves you wondering what went wrong. Full Review

Bill Goodykoontz
December 15, 2011
Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

[Fassbender is] so good as a man completely lost to his baser impulses that it makes "Shame" worth sitting through. Enjoying? That's a relative term. But you'll certainly appreciate it. Full Review

Rene Rodriguez
December 14, 2011
Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

You don't just watch Shame: You feel it, too. Full Review

Chris Vognar
December 8, 2011
Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News

[A] graphic and spontaneous portrait of a spiraling sex addict. Full Review

Moira MacDonald
December 8, 2011
Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times

Ultimately "Shame" emerges as a sex tragedy, and a story without an end; it stays with you, like the film's frequent cold rain, hard to watch and harder to forget. Full Review

Carrie Rickey
December 8, 2011
Carrie Rickey, Philadelphia Inquirer

McQueen finds the exquisite tension between the brother wanting to disconnect and the sister longing for connection. Full Review

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    • Sissy: Mmm... mmm! So good!
    • Sissy: We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place.
    • Brandon: How are you helping me? How are you helping me? You come in here and you're a weight on me, you're a burden, you just fucking dragging me down.
    • Sissy: Shithead.
    • Brandon: Actions count, but words not.
    • Sissy: I'm not playing the victim. If I left, I would never hear from you again. Don't you think that's sad? Don't you think that's sad? You're my brother.

Shame : Watch Free on TV

Shame Trivia

  • In the John Water's movie "A Dirty Shame", how did the characters become sex addicts?  Answer »
  • Katie Holmes dropped out of the movie Shame on You due to her upcoming pregnancy  Answer »
  • Martin Scorsese's so called classic The Departed a plagiarised version of the far superior Hong Kong movie Infernal Affairs  Answer »

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