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Generally favorable reviews- based on 204 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 5 out of 204

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  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 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. Expand
  2. Jan 8, 2012
    I wish I could give this movie a good rating. Its starts with a fairly handsome guy, nicely built in all proportions, who is a sex addict. Sometimes he gets what he wants (always friendly; this guy does not rape), but on other occasions he cannot produce. His sister lives with him, and she appears to be on the verge of suicide from Day One, making this film complicated and dark. The guy, who suddenly seems to have lost interest and or ability to perform sex, plus put up with the antics of his sister, walks endlessly through the night streets of Manhattan, or jogs and jogs, or rides half-filled, old newspaper-littered subway trains endlessly. These scenes where he's losing himself, or possibly trying to find a way out of sexual addiction go on and on -- making this 1-hour, 45-minute film seem like a 5-hour ride on a dirty subway train. There are good street shots of Manhattan, but at the now-famous Standard hotel on the High Line, they miss the opportunity to have the woman bracing herself against the picture glass picture windows while being pumped from behind - something that supposedly happens regularly in real life every night - much to the delight of High Line voyeurs. Why does the film shy away from the big window scenes - maybe a nod to hotel management's requests? Go see, but I think you may be disappointed too. Expand
  3. Dec 18, 2011
    Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender) has an addiction. He does not struggle against it, seek therapy to cure it, or deny its existence; he learns to cope with it and attempts to shape his life around it to create routine and give it space. Brandon is addicted to sex but appears to be a bit more OCD about it than the regular sex addict looking to score at the club on a weekend. He has a handle on his issue enough to know specifically what he wants. This specificity is most likely his limiting factor when it comes to real life relationships and intimacy, but Brandonâ Expand
  4. Aug 24, 2014
    I have never been into artistic movies, and this was definitely one of them. My incentive to watch this to begin with was a free ticket to the movies, nothing else of interest was on, and I kind of liked Michael Fassbender in "X-Men: First Class". Well, for anyone who likes Fassbender, this had plenty of him - in every sense of the word (lots of naked body parts). In short, Brandon (Fassbender) is addicted to sex, and his life-style is somewhat disrupted by a visit from his clingy sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan).

    I wasn't exactly certain of the past between the two, and what exactly was their problem with each other. It seems Sissy really needed her brother more than he knew, though.

    The story took too long to move forward, and in the end it didn't manage to quite explain to me who the people in it were. It felt aimless and a bit lost in all the emotions that felt quite real, but which did not seem to have a purpose since I didn't see beyond them to understand why they were there in the first place.

    Not a movie for me, definitely.
  5. Jan 16, 2012
    I admit it, the sluggish pace may have distracted me, but I didn't get the back story of the brother-sister. The main reason to see it is the frontal nudity of a soon-to-be major star, and the daring sex. But it is strangely clinical and unsexy, and sad, which I DO get is the point. Sigh.
  6. 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.

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: Steve Persall
    Feb 15, 2012
    Shame smears the lines between daring and taunting, and art versus indulgence. When it ends there's the urge to take a shower, and not a cold one.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Feb 3, 2012
    It's easy to be interested in the characters' lives -- as tragic as they are -- but it's not nearly as easy to become emotionally invested in them.
  3. Reviewed by: Calvin Wilson
    Jan 20, 2012
    The film is a raw, unsparing look at the downside of humanity.