Shame review

JUST when a sex addict thinks things can’t get any harder (…), his little sister drops on by to say hello.

Director Steve McQueen’s Hunger made a huge impact when it was released in 2008, thanks partly to lead actor Michael Fassbender but primarily to McQueen’s impressive transition from celebrated artist to masterful visual storyteller and expectations have been high for his follow-up. The cinematic style of Shame feels more restrained and conservative, possibly more sophisticated but disappointingly less distinguished than its predecessor. And while the sex addiction issue is little understood, as its filmmakers have gone to lengths to research and subsequently point out, although avoiding cliché, not an awful lot of light is, actually, shed upon it. There is a layer of depth and sensitivity missing that would make this a truly original story and, at times, it is difficult to see past a frustrated bonking-mad bonker bonking a lot.

Carey Mulligan (little sis) is a captivating bright young star and she does nothing here to abate her ascendency. Reuniting with McQueen, Fassbender, although his frequently naked presence will wreak havoc with most men’s slightest of inadequacy issues, delivers an almighty performance that is certainly up there with, and arguably more impressive than, all of the main awards season contenders.

It is because Steve McQueen has so quickly gained such a strong reputation that this film is open to especially close, demanding, expectant scrutiny. The director remains an exciting creative on the British scene and, nitpicking aside, especially through its looks and its cast, Shame is an undeniably accomplished and memorable film.

4 out of 5

13th Jan 2012 | Official site | On IMDb