Metascore
72

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 29 out of 41
  2. Negative: 2 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Nov 9, 2011
    38
    Shame articulates a shallow, even mundane, understanding of an uninteresting man's sex addiction-in a vibrant city rendered dull and anonymous.
  2. Reviewed by: Ben Sachs
    Dec 1, 2011
    30
    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.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 182 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 35 out of 45
  2. Negative: 2 out of 45
  1. Dec 4, 2011
    4
    Shame summarizes its own fundamental problem in Carey Mulligan's line, "We're not bad, we just come from a bad place." The bad place that Sissy and Brandon come from is where others have moved on to more au courant dysfunctions, while Brandon got left behind with a circa-1995 sex addiction and Sissy got left behind with the depression fostered by having a brother with a circa-1995 sex addiction. It's remotely possible that the movie might have made something interesting of this notion of being left behind - the unsexy out-of-dateness of Brandon's sex addiction - but Shame evinces a nearly absolute lack of self-awareness of the difficulties it brings upon itself by attempting to engage a topic that no longer has much cultural currency. There's a glimmer of promise when Brandon, on a date with his co-worker Marianne, asks her to feel a bump on the back of his head and explains, playfully, that he's a Neanderthal (and then goes on to describe the childhood mishap that actually produced the bump). It's worth noting that the exchange of dialogue in this scene is practically the only passage in the movie that doesn't feel oppressively contrived. A viewer who hasn't yet given up might suppose that Shame is finally pushing through to a recognition of Brandon as belonging to the wrong era: he has the misfortune to be the Neanderthal who survived the extinction of the culture's interest in sex addiction. All he's survived, though, in the constricted view that the movie is willing to allow itself, is a vaguely dysfunctional childhood in New Jersey. Curiously, the movie alludes ambiguously to a different (the same?) childhood in Ireland. The Irish childhood is another glimmer of promise; it suggests a whole other larger context, in which Brandon's struggles with himself derive from and are justified by a formative guilt-laden Irish Catholic upbringing (in Ireland, so much more guilt-laden than New Jersey can ever be). In this context, Brandon fits plausibly into the movie's frame because his origin is from outside the movie's setting. As a New Yorker with a sex addiction, he's an anachronism, but as an Irish immigrant, he's an outsider grappling with a plausible burden. But to make the Irish-immigrant narrative plausible, the movie would need to allow itself room to explore the larger context, and this is exactly what the movie rigorously declines to do. Full Review »
  2. Dec 3, 2011
    10
    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. Full Review »
  3. Jan 13, 2012
    10
    From time to time a movie arrives in cinemas that will leave such an impression that no matter what you do, itâ