Shame Is A Penetrating Look At Sex Addiction

Categories: Film

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SPOILERS! SPOILERS!

"Sex without connection is bad for you" is not exactly an original theme, or something the liberal media (or me and my friends) want to readily embrace.

But Steve McQueen's new film, Shame -- which I saw at the New York Film Festival -- is at least a provocative look at the alleged emptiness of promiscuity.

The sculpted-faced Michael Fassbender is riveting as Brandon, the thirtysomething urban professional who can't get enough T&A, though he's often seen showering off the, you know, shame, before moving on to his next angsty conquest.

(And by the way, his orgasms look more pained than ecstatic, to underline his unhappy addiction even further.)

Carey Mulligan is sensational as Brandon's sister, who intrudes on his hollow life by crashing his apartment and demanding to be noticed and conversed with.

(She also has an interesting scene singing "New York, New York" at a cabaret, doing it as a slow, torchy ballad filled with real longing as the camera zeroes in on her neediness. She'd make a great Sally Bowles.)

And Nicole Beharie is extraordinary as a work colleague of Brandon's, whom he gets to know a bit and therefore loses his sexual interest in, preferring to go for quick bangs with anonymous objects.

The whole "Isn't he sad?" approach becomes heavy-handed, but it's still solid, original filmmaking -- though I could have done without Brandon reaching his bottom, as it were, when he enters a gay sex club and lets a guy blow him.

Why is this always considered the low, even for a sex hound?

Anyway, don't be ashamed to see Shame. It's one of the year's more memorable films.


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9 comments
Inpatient Addiction Treatment
Inpatient Addiction Treatment

"Sex without connection is bad for you" - There are quite a few people who'd actually argue with that!  Honestly, I think everyone's different.  Some people can act promiscuously and not really incur long-term consequences, others become utterly consumed.

Duncan
Duncan

Agreed about the gay sex club scene. We all know that's probably the best BJ the guy will ever get. I was actually surprised when the movie maintained the down and dirty grim tone following that scene - - - I thought he had come through Hades only to realize that true bliss and satisfaction lies on the other side of the bank. I'd assumed that the scene was a personal triumph for the character, and by extension, sex addicts in general. Alas.

Melinda9
Melinda9

I don't see what's wrong or 'shame'(ful) about seeking quick, anonymous sex with other like minded people met here and there or in a sex club. It's better than being an asshole who goes around pretending that they're seeking relationships.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

 "Don't tell me anonymous sex is addictive! I've been doing it for 30 years!"

(A Tallulah line, although hers was cocaine.)

I agree with Jonster.

Jonster
Jonster

Sex without connection is how I spent my entire adolescence, and then some!  Never felt one bit of guilt.  

Mark
Mark

That raises an interesting question about sex addiction and gender blindness. If Brandon is bisexual when the chips are down, maybe they should have explored that theme more.

Ism
Ism

Glad to hear Carey's redeemed herself after a bad year last year.

Aok
Aok

I will see anything with Michael Fassbender, especially if he's shagging a lot.

Drug Rehab
Drug Rehab

I don't quite think that was the point of this move...it was to point out the harms of sex addiction.

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