Shame ★★★½

I can't think of a better way to convey the idea that sex is a barrier than filming the action in the most clinical way possible: through wide static shots that almost last forever. And that's just talking about its use of the camera; it's also a terrific acting showcase that presents the tragedy of the situation through facial expressions that become more blank as it progresses. Thanks to how often it depicts the blank slate of its lead, Steve McQueen gets to make the most out of Michael Fassbender as a performer, and it's more than enough to make this simplistic, repetitive character study work.

I don't like the lack of development between Brandon and Sissy, and there are times where the slow pacing calls too much attention to itself. But the fact it never veers into lame melodrama is a testament to McQueen's ability to nail down tone. Considering the potential for this to feel exploitative, it makes its successes all the more gratifying.

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