CinemaCl🎃wn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Steve McQueen's follow-up to his critically acclaimed directorial debut is another powerfully compelling, unflinchingly graphic & downright disturbing example of arthouse cinema focusing on the devastating effects of addiction that presents the director in prime form, is crafted with precision care & meticulous attention to detail, and benefits greatly from another excellent performance from Michael Fassbender.
Set in New York City, Shame follows the life of Brandon; a 30-something man who's a sex addict. While his carefully cultivated private life does allow him to indulge in his unhealthy dependency without any major consequences, his whole world spirals out of control when his sister unexpectedly arrives in town to stay with him for an indefinite amount of time as Brandon struggles to keep his private life as stable as it was before.
Directed by Steve McQueen, Shame begins with Brandon flirting with a woman on his daily commute which is intercut with snippets of his daily life & that opening wordless sequence alone tells us everything we need to know about him by instantly giving us a ticket into the mind of this troubled character, and the manner in which McQueen approaches the subject of sexual addiction proves that he's one capable filmmaker who knows what he's doing.
The screenplay is penned down by McQueen & Abi Morgan, who carve out a gripping story filled with interesting characters. Cinematography once again employs his usual trademarks for the camera goes for long single takes, static placements & near-perfect lighting. It also makes better use of colour hues & temperature when compared to the dark, gritty look of his last film. Editing unfolds the events in a methodical manner while the background score by Harry Escott beautifully compliments the whole narrative.
Coming to the performances, Shame features a reliable cast in Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan & others, and the work by every member is strong. Fassbender adds another amazing work to his résumé for he's extremely convincing as Brandon and whether it's his expressions, gaze or conversations, he's terrific in every manner. Carey Mulligan also chips in with a brilliant contribution as Sissy & wonderfully portrays her character's dark side. The supporting cast also have their moments with Nicole Beharie managing to stand out.
On an overall scale, Shame shows that no matter what a person is dependent on, any kind of addiction can wreck havoc on their life, and even something as coveted as sex can have destructive consequences if the need for it spirals out of control. Arguably the best film in Steve McQueen's short but highly impressive career, extremely graphic in content & certainly not for everyone, Shame does to sex what Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend did to alcohol & Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream did to drugs. Strongly recommended.