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: Calvin Wilson
    Jan 20, 2012
    The film is a raw, unsparing look at the downside of humanity.
  2. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    Dec 1, 2011
    Shame has a lolling pace and stunning visual clarity. Structurally, it's close to perfect - its precision echoed in the Glenn Gould piano recordings of Bach keyboard works that Brandon listens to obsessively.
  3. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Nov 30, 2011
    This is a great act of filmmaking and acting. I don't believe I would be able to see it twice.
  4. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 8, 2011
    It's first and foremost a visual and sonic symphony, and a Dante-esque journey through a New York nightworld where words are mostly useless or worse.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Nov 8, 2011
    Driven by a brilliant, ferocious performance by Michael Fassbender, Shame is a real walk on the wild side, a scorching look at a case of sexual addiction that's as all-encompassing as a craving for drugs.
  6. 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.
  7. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Dec 1, 2011
    It is Mulligan and most especially Fassbender that give the film its power. The desperation, hostility and despair he conveys through the act of sex make Shame a film that is difficult to watch but even harder to turn away from.
  8. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Dec 15, 2011
    Equally harrowing and heartrending, Shame is a film that feels akin to going into battle, and I for one didn't emerge unscathed.
  9. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Dec 15, 2011
    Shame is fearless in the way the most ambitious art often is, and to write it off for what it doesn't do is reductive and misguided. You don't just watch Shame: You feel it, too.
  10. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Nov 29, 2011
    It's neither glamorous nor erotic and director Steve McQueen has taken an unflinching and non-judgmental view of sexual addiction in Shame.
  11. 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."
  12. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Dec 1, 2011
    McQueen is a showy director, but his bravura long takes have the effect of heightened attentiveness, allowing scenes to build in intensity without the relief of a cut.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 215 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 41 out of 52
  2. Negative: 2 out of 52
  1. Dec 4, 2011
    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 thatShame 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
    One of the most thought provoking films regarding a subject not often talked about. Fassbender gives a truly tortured performance worthy ofOne 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
    From time to time a movie arrives in cinemas that will leave such an impression that no matter what you do, itâ