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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 17, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

‘Shame’: Sex-crazed role gives raw show

British director Steve McQueen’s second film, “Shame,” is a character study dealing with the cynical world of addiction, while also excusing clichés in its poetic execution.
Michael Fassbender plays a young sex addict named Brandon. A frequent customer of call girls and a chronic masturbator, Brandon lives a life consumed by sex without passion or connection. The arrival of his dependent sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), interferes with Brandon’s lifestyle.
In “Shame,” the allure of addiction cannot be easily explained. It disrupts work, friendships, family, and ultimately results in negativity. However, addiction allows individuals to construct walls against human connection. This, according to McQueen, is the most relevant part of physical dependency. Addiction gives the psychologically broken a license to ignore their problems while also serving their own selfishness. Yet Brandon doesn’t explain why he abuses sex, rendering his character unrelatable.
Both Fassbender and Mulligan play their broken protagonists with remarkable courage, seemingly prepared to make their roles as unrelatable as possible while still achieving empathy from the audience.
“Shame” is a portrait of addiction that drops cinematic pomp and flair, stripping itself as the characters are stripped of their illusions.