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DVD: Shame | reviews, news & interviews

DVD: Shame

DVD: Shame

More agony than ecstasy for Michael Fassbender in Steve McQueen's brutal portrait of addiction and loneliness

All about intuition: Michael Fassbender in 'Shame'

Chocolat, a film about chocolate addiction, was extremely sweet. Trainspotting, a film about drug addiction, was wired and hip. Shame, a film about sex addiction, assaults you with wave upon wave of tristesse.

When Sarah Kent reviewed the theatrical release for theartsdesk, she found in it a stereotypical joyride secretly in love with the thing it deplores. Those aren’t the colours this male reviewer takes away from the fractured relationship between sex addict Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a pump-action Adonis running on emptiness, and his sister Sissy, a brittle, wandering chanteuse (Carey Mulligan) who croons “It’s up to you, New York, New York” in the eerie knowledge that the city that never weeps will not play ball for either of them. At the heart of Shame is a question which the script by Abi Morgan (The Iron Lady) and director Steve McQueen leaves unanswered. Why are these untherapised siblings, in the grip of some nameless incestuous longing, in such appalling pain? It can’t all be the fault of New Jersey, where they grew up - Brandon also refers to some years in Ireland. Evidently cut off from parents who may now be dead, they have both washed up in a city which serves up arid couplings as if on a conveyor belt for Brandon, to fill those yawning voids between manic wanks. For Sissy, there’s just the one ruinous fuck, c/o Brandon’s conscienceless boss in advertising.

There are fiercely truthful performances all round, even from the line-free woman Brandon seduces with his eyes on the subway. Fassbender’s pre-climactic agony as he seeks to obliterate himself in a three-way fleshfest reads like a crucifixion by sex, or torture on the rack. The scant extras – a short interview with Mulligan, a longer Q&A with Fassbender - are, perhaps deliberately, silent on what has driven their characters into isolation. No matter. Fassbender is one of those actors whose brilliance is all about intuiting. No need for explanations. OK, he looks magnificent too. But no sane male would want to be in Brandon’s shoes for anything.

@JasperRees

Why are these untherapised siblings, in the grip of some nameless incestuous longing, in such appalling pain?

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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