Steve McQueen Filmography Marathon: Shame

Steve McQueen is one of the most uncomfortable to watch filmmakers I have ever encountered. His films manage to make me feel uneasy, while remaining engaged throughout. Both Hunger and Shame deal with uncomfortable topics, but for me Shame is the stronger of the pair. Shame also features an even braver performance from Michael Fassbender.

I think it’s an interesting title to name a movie about addiction “shame”. Addiction is a broad spectrum and can affect many people in different ways. For Fassbender’s character, Brandon, it’s sex.  It’s something everyone in the human race does, yet for Brandon, there’s an innate shame to the way he approaches sex. He feels shame when he has sex, and he feels shame when he doesn’t; that’s the trap he’s put himself into by engaging in his vices.

One aspect of this film that I found more palatable than Hunger, was McQueen’s ability to show some of the beauty and goodness in Brandon’s life. The scene in the lounge of Carey Mulligan singing never fails to make my eyes well up. To me, that scene is Brandon looking at his sister, and feeling all of his shame start to trickle out of him in small tears. He sees her and thinks about what she would say, or how much she would hate him, if she knew about the things he does.  The shame that starts small explodes when he cries in the rain. But in the end does he accept his shame and lot in life, or does he turn a new leaf as a changed man?  I like to think hopefully...

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