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Shame (2011)

tomatometer

79

Average Rating: 7.4/10
Reviews Counted: 195
Fresh: 154 | Rotten: 41

Boasting stellar performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, Shame is a powerful plunge into the mania of addiction affliction.

72

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 43
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 12

Boasting stellar performances by Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, Shame is a powerful plunge into the mania of addiction affliction.

audience

75

liked it
Average Rating: 3.7/5
User Ratings: 28,059

My Rating

Movie Info

Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a New Yorker who shuns intimacy with women but feeds his desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment stirring memories of their shared painful past, Brandon's insular life spirals out of control. -- (C) Official Site

Apr 17, 2012

$4.0M

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All Critics (195) | Top Critics (43) | Fresh (154) | Rotten (41) | DVD (7)

The film's numb attitude assumes that Brandon's problem is beyond reach or rescue. So why are we watching, except for high-tone misery and something close to pornography?

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is a raw, unsparing look at the downside of humanity.

January 20, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It reconfirms McQueen as a filmmaker with an unflinching, microscopic gaze on the world.

January 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Few filmmakers have plumbed the soul-churning depths of sexual addiction as fearlessly as British director Steve McQueen has in Shame.

December 29, 2011 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Shame is something of a dirty date that leaves you wondering what went wrong.

December 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comments (6)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Fassbender is] so good as a man completely lost to his baser impulses that it makes "Shame" worth sitting through. Enjoying? That's a relative term. But you'll certainly appreciate it.

December 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Arizona Republic
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A solid character study that is difficult to enjoy but hard not to appreciate.

June 30, 2013 Full Review Source: Big Hollywood
Big Hollywood

The New York City of "Shame" is a place so cold, so distanced, so removed from flesh-and-blood humanity, that it's the only place a man like Brandon can truly be alone.

June 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Deadspin
Deadspin

Many may hail Shame as a voyeuristic masterpiece when in fact it's an empty provocation verging on the ludicrous.

June 20, 2013 Full Review Source: Film Comment Magazine
Film Comment Magazine

Shame has the problems that accompany most films in which the director sticks his neck out. It's not incoherent, but will seem underdeveloped for viewers who want plots and characters spelled out for them.

April 21, 2013 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

It's another great performance from the star who appears now to have mastered the fed-up stare.

March 14, 2013 Full Review Source: Daily Star
Daily Star

A provocative and uncompromising study of a man haunted by sexual addiction.

March 4, 2013 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Rarely has a movie been so sexual without being remotely sexy. Rarely has a guy who might be admired in a sex comedy as a "playa" seemed more pathetic with each fresh conquest.

December 28, 2012 Full Review Source: McClatchy-Tribune News Service
McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Steve McQueen delivers an experience that simultaneously offers beautiful filmmaking and a welcome punch to the gut.

October 2, 2012 Full Review Source: ScreenRant
ScreenRant

Shame is a snapshot of a tumultuous life, shot without judgement and censure - the fascinating story of a man who seemingly has everything and nothing both at once.

September 28, 2012 Full Review Source: TheShiznit.co.uk
TheShiznit.co.uk

Shame is an elegant, art-tinged character study that that will hover in your psyche for a long time after you see it.

September 15, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

As Chuck D put it back in '88, don't believe the hype.

August 25, 2012 Full Review Source: NECN

Shame will probably be judged, after McQueen's long career is put into perspective many years hence, a relatively minor work by a gifted filmmaker.

July 24, 2012 Full Review Source: Cinemania

Fassbender and Mulligan give some of their finest work. The execution of this explicit film could however, have been handled smarter.

June 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Dial M For Movies
Dial M For Movies

an in-your-face drama that offers an unflinching, realistic view of addiction

May 25, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

Una profunda exploración de conductas humanas complejas, captadas de manera inquieta y reveladora por el director Steve McQueen. Excelentes labores de Michael Fassbender y Carey Mulligan.

May 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

As an evocation of cheerless ennui, Shame is unmatched. It's a chilly depiction of a sad, wounded monster who might plausibly walk among us. What a real-life Patrick Bateman might look like.

April 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | Comments (2)
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Fassbender delivers a huge... sorry engorged...no that's not it um...SWOLLEN .... No LARGE...no utterly incredible, nuanced and compelling performance.

April 26, 2012 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

It's good, but "Shame" can start to feel like you've walked in on a chronic masturbator one too many times.

April 14, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Not a film for everyone and it's not the best pick for Grandma's Sunday afternoon out. It's a challenging film but worth seeing for the combo of Fassbender and McQueen.

March 8, 2012 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

Audience Reviews for Shame

Wasn't quite what I was expecting but certainly a realistic look into a destructive addiction. Perhaps too intense at some points. Even though there were some parts that I felt dragged the film down a bit, I felt the film was pretty shocking and worth watching.
September 6, 2013
Raajay

Super Reviewer

A beautifully fulfilling and poignant film on a form of addiction that is never covered in film and is somewhat mocked and neglected in public discourse. A very character driven film, "Shame" is filled with its namesake thanks to a hauntingly brilliant performance from Irishman Michael Fassbender. Set in the New York City landscape of decadence, gluttony, and sexual ambivalence. It's a perfectly bleak and strangely sterile place and a great setting for a story about a man who is out of his depth. Addicted to pornography, masturbation, and sexual intercourse, Brandon is always struggling to find true love while also juggling his high stress job and getting through his daily struggles with addiction. He has sex with everyone from his co-workers to prostitutes, and while he can easily get through his physical encounters with random strangers he can't make it with someone he truly cares for. Worse than that people are starting to suspect that he is more than what he seems. His sister, who is as messed up as him in another way, has moved in with him and is starting to make his life of meaningless sex and addiction into something even more shameful. He struggles throughout the film to end his sexual deviance and escapades for his own betterment, but it's in his blood, coursing through him in the worst kind of way. His boss is on to him, his sister definitely knows how horrible a time he's going through, and the one person he has connected with in so much time cannot quench his everlasting and salacious thirst. Fassbender gives a thoughtfully pained performance, Mulligan is far from the good girl persona she has previously exhibited, and Nicole Beharie is exceptionally sweet hearted but naive. Just an amazing and overwhelmingly moving film.
February 24, 2013
FrizzDrop

Super Reviewer

Shame is an interesting film with lots to chew over. It has a vibe that runs through it - allowing for long sequences that may or may not mean much at all - but its tenor is solid - it certainly believes in the vision that it is showing... for better or worse.

Moody music and moody performances are at the core here - Michael Fassbinder is marvelous as a sex addict who has intimacy problems; as is his sister, as portrayed by Carey Mulligan. They are a contradiction - Mulligan is needy and ready for a tryst whenever and with whoever, regardless of the cost - just to feed the emptiness that is at the center of her; while Fassbinder is almost a sexual predator in the way he scans a woman, and yet, while desiring the sexual coupling, cannot commit to intimacy (the film does itself a disservice by never explaining why - as if he exists as an entity unto himself - a man with no past or future, living in the eternal now).

The performances are brave, as is the direction of co-writer and director Steve McQueen, although the floating "now" at the back third of the film remains for me a questionable choice, as are scenes that, quite simply seem to go on for too long (like the long jobbing scene). I was impressed however that McQueen allowed Mulligan the time to sing an entire version of a slow, jazzy New York, New York (and what amazing comping by the pianist!!) - that scene meant next to nothing, and yet was given the full treatment, an odd choice, but one that I enjoyed. All I can think is that this, like so much of the film, does nothing more than set the mood - it is intimate and distant at the same time, just like Fassbinder's character.

There is a fabulously acted scene between Fassbinder and a co-worker (kudos to Nichole Beharie as said co-worker) as they awkwardly and yet compellingly interact on a date while dining in a restaurant - constantly interrupted by an overbearing waiter, they still circle around each other as each starts to reveal small secrets of who they are. Fassbinder proclaims that relationships are overrated, which sets Beharie back a bit as she announces that she is separated and, from her actions, we believe her to be looking for some kind of bounce back romance - one that will recharge her self esteem. Fassbinder, who is looking for what used to be called "the zipless fuck" (ie, no strings attached emotionally or intellectually) takes a step back when he learns that Beharie is no longer "attached". That he later takes a chance is telling, and that said chance ends in disappointment all the more so. You just wonder what the heck happened to cause him to fear intimacy so much.

The ending doesn't answer these questions, but does a fair job of showing us a man trapped by his compulsion and, quite frankly, by life. He somehow cares for his sister, in spite of her being a "weight that drags me down". She complicates his compartmentalized life, and yet he is tethered to her, in spite of himself - just as he is tethered to his addiction - substituting the carnal for the real kind of interaction he can't seem to be able to handle. Creepy in many ways - and yet compelling - just as it seems that women can detect his desire and are somehow drawn to it; as the long subway scenes depict... again, both detached and yet intensely intimate, even with no words being said.
February 8, 2013
maxthesax
paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

to present the unpresentible is what modernist art does. postmodernist art is to present the unpresentibility. but in this case, shame is the former. it's about a sex-addict who painfully takes great doses of sex to feel consummated, for emotional alleviation? for a drastic void he could never fulfill. he looks dreary, worn-out by them, are his joyrides aren't really joyrides or chamber of endless torments? at least, he's honest to himself without giving you that disgusting sense of chauvinistic complacency on his sexual conquests. he's aware that he's attractive with masculine enigma and quite able to get as many women as he could. he doesn't take pride and he just wants to live and let live, keep things under a functional, seemingly responsible surface of normalcy until his emotionally frail sister invades his apartment to tear that illusionary facade of self-sufficiency apart.

but the movie doesn't exactly reveal what the hack is troubling this dude who seems to be equipped with everything that makes a glossy yuppie bachelor in new york: young, handsome, indepedent, well-mannered (for most of the time) with a position which pays enough to have a decent apartment and as much paid sexual services as he wishes to have. his achilles' feet are only unravelled by his sister's suicidal attempts, sentimal whining for tender attetnion: "we're not bad people. we just come from bad roots"...so what is in that pandora's box? (it never tells you! so no climax, and it never really lets you CUM.aye. allegory of sex without pleasure? ha)

the title of this movei is SHAME, and the guy is really quite decent by heart enough to feel the shame as if his genital is sadistically rotting from over-exhaustions while his heart seeks that masochistic rapture/rupture saturated by shame.
February 3, 2013
dietmountaindew
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

    1. Sissy: We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place.
    – Submitted by Frances H (15 months ago)
    1. Brandon: How are you helping me? How are you helping me? You come in here and you're a weight on me, you're a burden, you just fucking dragging me down.
    – Submitted by Matt D (20 months ago)
    1. Sissy: Shithead.
    – Submitted by Benjamin A (20 months ago)
    1. Brandon: Actions count, but words not.
    – Submitted by Amanda T (21 months ago)
    1. Sissy: I'm not playing the victim. If I left, I would never hear from you again. Don't you think that's sad? Don't you think that's sad? You're my brother.
    – Submitted by Casey M (23 months ago)
    1. Brandon: Hey slut, wanna do it?
    – Submitted by Julian A (24 months ago)
View all quotes (9)

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December 2, 2011:
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