Shame: Powerful Film About Sex Addiction
Carey MulliganJames Badge Dale...
This is a film about sex addiction. If you were previously unaware that
this was even a thing, well now you’re that much wiser.
Brandon (Fassbender) has carved out an existence for himself that feeds
his addiction on every level, while giving off the appearance of a normal guy
to the casual observer. He lives alone barely keeping in touch with his sister,
his computers both at work and at home are filled with porn, he trolls clubs
and bars nightly to pick up girls and seemingly has prostitutes on speed dial.
His life revolves around satisfying his addiction where he’s reached the point that it’s controlling him. His sister, Sissy (Mulligan), who comes with her own
share of baggage and is possibly even more messed up than him, shows up
unannounced, moves in with him and shakes up his neat little routine. With her
around, he’s no longer able to turn a blind eye to his issues and
shame rocks his entire being – hence the title of the film. He takes out his
anger on Sissy further exacerbating her problems – she has suicidal tendencies
and low self esteem which, among other things, makes her crave male approval –
which he conveniently ignores as well.
They obviously have a completely messed up, slightly incestuous, history
but the characters are never given a background other than that they’re from New Jersey by way of Ireland. Either way, the
amount of self-loathing in this film is astounding and this ambiguity allows
you to project some of your own insecurities onto the characters.
The film has a lot of sex but it isn’t sexy in the slightest; it’s actually really painful to watch. Fassbender looks like he’s falling apart at the seams, like his addiction is
causing him physical pain. Yet the more he plugs that void (pun intended), the
more disgusted he feels with himself. Sex is no longer something he does for
pleasure; it’s turned into a form of self abuse. It’s something dark,
dirty and hateful to the point where he’s incapable of sleeping with someone that he actually likes.
Mulligan’s Sissy is no less messed up but where Brandon skirts
around his issues, she’s fully aware that she’s in trouble and practically oozes vulnerability. She moves in with
Brandon as a cry for help only to find him angry that her presence affects his
freedom to indulge in his vices. She looks perky and happy on the outside,
but one look at Mulligan’s eyes are enough to show just how troubled she is.
While Shame is a character
driven piece, relying mainly on Fassbender and Mulligan’s talents more than anything, there’s still plenty more to back the actors up. The film’s bathed in an icy blue tone, and is mainly scored to
Bach – giving the film a sense of grandeur and intimacy yet really reinforcing
the hurt and sadness in the story. It’s an incredible, albeit difficult film to sit through but one that
showcases some really fine talent.