Shame (2011) Movie Review

This is not a sex education movie…

Shame is without a doubt an interesting movie released in these past few years. No, I didn’t mean it’s interesting because you can see Michael Fassbander naked in here. The interesting part is the combination of feelings you get after the movie finished. It ranges from “wow” to “hmm” to “okay, I think I learned something”.

Brandon is a 30-year-old bachelor in New York City. He looks slightly above average, he lives in a fancy apartment and have a successful job. Now this might give you the impression that he is all that. However, Brandon leads a double life for he is a sex addict. The addiction is damaging to his personal life but Brandon doesn’t seem to notice.

The movie begins with the regular sexual hookups Brandon had, whether it’s with the ladies he met in the clubs, subway or even the call girl who he called regularly. However, this routine gets interrupted when his younger sister, Sissy, arrived in town to stay with him. As the movie moves forward, we learned more about Brandon and Sissy’s relationship. It is far beyond normal siblings fondness for one another. They pretended to like each other, but somehow Brandon is angry at her sister. There is one disturbing scene that sums up this analysis. After a night out, Sissy got home drunk and have sex with Brandon’s boss on the couch while Brandon is in the other room. He heard everything! The movie hints of childhood trauma between the two, although no clear description is given.

And this made me realised that Shame is different from other movies. Shame isn’t about a sex addict finding redemption, Shame is the study of sexual addiction. The “provoking” scenes are necessary to make you realise that sex for them are not form of pleasure, it’s more like a burden they can’t get away from. It’s pretty eye-opening, since most of Hollywood movies treated sex in a casual way. Why no one asked what happen when someone is addicted to sex?

Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan are amazing at playing the troubled brother and sister. One might even say they got “lost” in their respective characters, which is quite visible when you watched the movie. I love the direction by Steve McQueen, I think he did a fine job handling such a sensitive topic. What I like the most is how he doesn’t mollify the topic and just jump right into it leaving viewers feeling desperate and at times helpless; I loved it.

Note: The shame in Shame is not the sex, it’s the addiction. Keep that in mind.

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