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Directed by Steve McQueen

UK, 2011

Cornerhouse, 14 January 2012


It is a film about sex addiction and a brother-sister relationship that is dysfunctional, if not downright incestuous.

What is admirable about it as cinematic art is how so much is suggested, unsaid, implied.  So that in memory the mood and atmosphere of the film looms even larger.  The back story casts an ominous black shadow.

Michael Fassbender’s performance is spectacular, so too Carey Mulligan’s.  He plays Brandon, a man addicted to internet porn.  When with prostitutes he’s together and everything holds up; yet he is impotent with the young woman who holds out the hope of a genuine relationship.  She’s another person, too damn real.

McQueen has an eye for human weakness, a sure sense of sin and damnation, an astute awareness that you cannot always escape or survive an awful past.

Shame is a fine work, a film noir without the distraction of a murder to solve.  The only crimes here are permissible ones.