Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 190 Ratings

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  • Summary: Brandon is a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister moves into his apartment stirring memories of their shared painful past, Brandon's insular life spirals out of control. (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jan 20, 2012
    The film is a raw, unsparing look at the downside of humanity.
  2. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Nov 8, 2011
    A mesmerizing companion piece to his 2008 debut, "Hunger," this more approachable but equally uncompromising drama likewise fixes its gaze on the uses and abuses of the human body, as Michael Fassbender again strips himself down, in every way an actor can, for McQueen's rigorous but humane interrogation.
  3. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Dec 1, 2011
    Mulligan is terrific here, and restrained in a way that suggests an actorly generosity unusual for someone so young: Her scenes with Fassbender don't so much say "Look at me" as "Look at him."
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Dec 1, 2011
    Fassbender's portrayal is truly haunting, and when he sobs, dramatically unraveling, it's clear he's imprisoned by his physical urges.
  5. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Dec 1, 2011
    Much of the film is banal or pretentious, or both - vacuous vignettes about emptiness. Occasionally, though, those vignettes burst into life and burn with consuming fire.
  6. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Dec 1, 2011
    How can visual pleasure communicate existential misery? It is a real and interesting challenge, and if Shame falls short of meeting it, the seriousness of its effort is hard to deny.
  7. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Dec 1, 2011
    Most of the film feels recycled from sexually explicit art movies dating back at least to "Last Tango in Paris" (1972) and continuing with movies like Patrice Chéreau's "Intimacy" (2001) or Götz Spielmann's "Antares" (2004). With nothing new in its characters, settings, or themes, Shame has little to offer except McQueen's style, which does little to elucidate anything around it.

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 37 out of 47
  2. Negative: 2 out of 47
  1. Dec 3, 2011
    One of the most thought provoking films regarding a subject not often talked about. Fassbender gives a truly tortured performance worthy of at least an Oscar nomination. Expand
  2. Dec 14, 2011
    Fassbander and Mulligan are raw and naked and bare - both physically and emotionally - in this movie and it makes for a compelling experience:

    Full review:
  3. Nov 7, 2012
    Although it is bracing and does a decent job of showcasing the dark side of man, the film, Shame, is not as good as Fassbender is here, which is too say it is not great. Expand
  4. Jun 26, 2012
    Viewer discretion is advised. It
  5. Jul 5, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Steve McQueen has upped his game after Hunger. Brandon (Fassbender) is apparently very efficient in his workplace, and appears to have an ordered life, when in reality he is a sex-addict. He is seen falling apart with the arrival of his sister Sissy (Mulligan), another troubled person whom he sees as more than a disruption to his routine. There are many sex-scenes far too many, in my opinion, but as you would expect none are erotic (nor did they aim to be). Besides Sissy, no one knows of Brandon's "shame", something that should strike us as odd but doesn't. This is because Brandon, as "pleasant" as he is around others, is in fact distant. He is unable to let himself make emotional connections without them tearing him apart (a fact that is made evident in the film not only by Sissy's presence, but also by his attempt to engage with a co-worker for whom he obviously has feelings for). The character Brandon would have been unbearable to watch if it wasn't for Michael Fassbender's portrayal of him how on earth was this performance not up for an Oscar? Really, how? McQueen strikes a remarkable balance between the two extremes On the one hand, one uses sex for carnal pleasure, because he is disconnected (Brandon), for whatever reason, and cannot (or refuses to) allow themselves to be emotionally available, and the other (Sissy) is so desperate to feel any connection that they use sex as a means to feel "loved". The amazing portrayals from both actors have you believing what Sissy states they are not bad people, they just come from a bad place. We, the audience, never find out what this "bad place" is, nor do we need to know the emphasis is on how the characters have been affected. Brandon and Sissy can be anyone around us. They both fall deeper into the grips of their own dependencies as the film progresses. This isn't an easy watch, but it is worth seeing. Expand
  6. Jan 21, 2012
    Director Steve McQueen started as a cinema artist and that shows in his commercial work. There are extended takes & minimal dialogue (hence, slow pacing) and episodes that add up to an impression (as opposed to a storyline). Michael Fassbinder plays a New York stud, who's obsessed with sex and afraid of intimacy. As a result, there two primary types of scenes: sex (including random pickups, masturbation & full-frontal nudity) and struggle (rueful staring and disaffected relationships). It's compelling on several levels, but too cerebral to be powerful. The most shameful thing is that the distributors had the conviction to release it in NC-17 (with all the attendant barriers) and it's not worth the risk. Expand
  7. Apr 6, 2014
    It's not offensive, it's not particularly interesting, it's mainly just boring, and extremely overrated.

    The guy's problem is uninteresting
    and 90% of the male population has the same urges/done worse. Personally I felt that some of the behaviour/dialogue felt wrong to, perhaps due to the choice of actor (European), e.g. the bar scene and some others. I was not surprised to find out later on that McQueen is a black guy as it would suit a black actor much better.

    I sat through it until the end so I guess it wasn't completely terrible but I sure did feel as if I had wasted my time.

See all 47 User Reviews


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