Mikael Stånggren’s review published on Letterboxd:
Shame is the mesmerizing story of a successful New York business man named Brandon Sullivan, whose extreme appetites for sex spiral further and further out of control, beyond the accepted norms of society and into desirous, overwhelming addiction.
Rivetingly played by Michael Fassbender (who is fast becoming one of my new favorite 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.