Friday, November 11, 2011

AFI FEST 2011: "Shame"

SHAME (2011) **** 101 mins. D: Steve McQueen. Michael Fessbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie.

The life of a successful business man with a severe sex addiction becomes unhinged when his younger sister arrives for an extended visit.

Steve McQueen's new feature takes an unflinching and raw look at sex addiction and the destructive nature it has on someone's life, career and the people around them.

Fessbender exposes himself, physically and emotionally, and delivers a powerful performance as Brandon, a man who's addiction is controlling his life. You've heard the phrase "He'd f**k anything with a hole in it." Brandon is that guy. This is by no means a comedy even though to some it may sound funny. This addiction is real and I don't recall seeing any film tackle the subject so frankly. His porn browsing is not just limited to his home but is at work as well, much to the chagrin of his boss. The closest thing he has to a relationship are the prostitutes he frequents. When he has the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with a real woman he's not up to the task. In every instance, Fessbender draws you in and you can't look away. I would be shocked if he doesn't receive an Oscar nod. Mulligan performs just as well as his younger sister, the woman who disrupted his "existence". Their scenes together are electric, at times funny and cute but felt very real and very sad.

This film received an NC-17 and deservedly so. This film is not porn, it is not meant to titillate. If you're going to see it for that reason perhaps you should just go watch a porn instead. It is a film for adults about adults and is not a film easily forgotten.

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