Shame ★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

To say that "Shame" is a film about sex addiction, is to miss its true meaning. "Shame" is about disconnection and distance. It is about a man who recoils at meaningful human connection. It is about a man whose emotional and physical functioning breaks down if he does not run, sometimes literally, from even the possibility of actual, purposeful interaction.

Ironically, it is through sex, and the emotional and physical release of orgasm, that he keeps his walls from messy, human interaction at their highest.

Cinematically, we are kept at a distance from "Shame's" protagonist, Michael Fassbender's Brandon. Shots are chosen so that we are never too close to him, as if that would be uncomfortable for us; we know it would be uncomfortable for Brandon. Shots, even costumes, are bathed in melancholy grays and ambers; we are watching ice that will not melt.

Fassbender is brilliant as Brandon, communicating the pain of a wounded animal through nuanced facial expressions and allowing us glimpses of what might be going on behind his eyes; but "Shame's" narrative beats are all-too obvious. "Shame" works when we disregard the need for a classic narrative and we pay attention to character, as its primary funtion is as a character study and a portrait of addiction hiding a need to be as far from other humans as possible.

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