Shame ★★★★

After seeing 12 Years a Slave and Hunger, I know for a fact that the filmmaker doesn’t shy the camera away from it’s uncomfortable images. But when it comes to sexual addiction, Steve McQueen manages to make it into a personal, powerful, and unforgettable film!

Shame is about a man in his 30s who is an obsessive and compulsive sex addict, but his private life falls apart when his sister arrives at his apartment for an infinite stay.

Hmmm. Yeah, this was an interesting film. Shame was actually the third Steve McQueen film I’ve seen, and it got me interested on learning more about this guy. And I believe I watched it on HBO or Cinemax. This was, of course after I’ve seen 12 Years a Slave, Widows, and then Hunger, so I was already on board to ride the Steve McQueen express. But he only directed 4 theatrical films, and there was only one more movie from him I haven’t seen. And that’s where Shame comes in.

The acting is incredible! Michael Fassbender who’s been a collaborator with Steve McQueen has done an excellent job of playing this human character. He plays Brandon, a sex addicted and porn addicted bachelor who lives in a upscale apartment in New York City. But his private life spirals out of control when his homeless sister moves in with him. Carey Mulligan plays Sissy, a singer who is lonely, her boyfriend has dumped her, and she has nowhere to stay. So she moves in with her brother permanently. Again, Fassbender and Mulligan were simply fantastic! They seem like real siblings with real flaws more than just actors who are told to say the lines, and they’re more than fictional characters. You actually feel sorry for both of them! You can tell there’s been some traumatic event in their past, but it doesn’t go into detail what happened. Were they physically or sexually abused in their childhood? Or did they see their parents die in a car accident? I don’t know, but that’s the beauty of ambiguity!

Steve McQueen knows how to make a movie like an artist knows how to paint a portrait. After seeing what he did in 12 Years a Slave and Hunger, he does not mess around in Shame! He goes all out by showing how uncomfortable addiction is and doesn’t shy away from the unsettling images. You saw how unbearable it was for the brutality of prisoners and cruelty of slaves, now take a good glimpse of sex addiction. Given where credit is due, the excessively graphic sex and nude scenes were necessary because of the topic of the film. This isn’t a film that shows it for the sake of pointless vulgarity, it makes a valid point that everyone will do anything to get their fix. No matter if it’s sex, drugs, or alcohol. So Mr. McQueen does an excellent artistic job portraying that on the screen! Including filming those impressive long takes!

I’m kinda flabbergasted that most people who watched Shame hated it. But that’s mostly the audience, because of it being to slow or boring and it doesn’t have dialogue. I understand that if you don’t like it, then that’s fine. But cinephiles, like myself, will want to see something like this because films like Shame are artistic. It gives the viewer a glimpse of what the filmmaker is trying to say, “We aren’t perfect human beings. We are going to have something wrong with us, and that’s ok.” I will admit it is slow and it takes its time, but that was the process of being a character study of a guy who’s a hopeless addict who wants to love, and have human connection. But he can’t.

I have seen all 4 of McQueen’s films and I have them ranked in my list category. I have not seen his Small Axe anthology films and I probably won’t watch them because I don’t have time. Maybe when that time comes, I’ll sit down and watch one of them. If you are in a Steve McQueen phase or if you have watched his Small Axe anthology, I suggest finding this on HBO Max or Amazon Prime, rent it, and stream it! If you are going to look for it on Blu-ray, it’s such a hard one to find. But I promise you readers it’s one of his best.

I’m giving Shame 4 stars!

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