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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 205 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: 40 out of 51
  2. Negative: 2 out of 51
  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. May 25, 2012
    The plot, Fassbender and Mulliganâ
  3. May 23, 2014
    One of McQueen's best efforts before the amzaing 12 Years A Slave. It's just such an emotional look at the downside of humanity. Michael Fassbender is just so good at living with the character of Brandon and Carrey Mulligan impresses me like always when she graced our screens with "An Education" Expand
  4. Jun 26, 2012
    Viewer discretion is advised. It
  5. Feb 24, 2014
    Steve McQueen's second film is just as hard-edged and brutally honest as his outstanding debut Hunger and his phenomenal follow-up 12 Years a Slave, but in an entirely different way. In Shame, the British auteur explores a topic hardly ever discussed in the film industry, sexual addiction, and uses it as a means to create a brilliant character study with artistic visuals. With very few things actually happening, Shame surely feels the longest of all of Steve McQueen’s films and, just as with Hunger and 12 Years a Slave, it’s probably going to take me quite some time to watch it again. However, the film brings up a lot of interesting things to think about and is the most honest and dignified approach to the subject I could think of, thus making it something very worthy of checking out. 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 51 User Reviews


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