This I recommend.

Michael Fassbender as Brandon (right).

Great; hard to watch yet beautiful.

It’s times like this, when the local theater finally decides to screen a great film like Shame that I really wish I lived in Stockholm, or Hell, even the USA, so that I could’ve seen it back when critics were talking about it endlessly and praising it. Back when it was a brand new film.

Still, now that I’ve seen it, I wish to review it, because Steve McQueen‘s heartwrenching drama Shame an unusually great and courageous picture, with unpleasant yet immensely powerful scenes, many showing the internal struggles of our protagonist, whom Michael Fassbender plays in an outstanding performance.

His name is Brandon Sullivan. He is a sex addict. When he doesn’t pay for prostitutes he goes out and tries to find a one night stand and when he doesn’t do that he pleasures himself to Internet pornography. Either way, he cannot go a day without some form of orgasm. Because of his addiction, he tries to keep to himself, frequently ignoring calls from his late night lovers. This gets troublesome when suddenly his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) returns to him after having problems with her boyfriend.

Both of them are in certain ways damaged by their childhood. What exactly they’ve been through we never know. Sissy eventually ends up in bed with Brandon’s equally sex crazy boss David (James Badge Dale), who is much less secretive about his fondness of meaningless, loveless sex.

Brandon does not enjoy his loss of privacy, which Sissy’s arrival results in, but he does begin to examine his own life when Sissy shares her opinion that sex should involve more love and emotion than Brandon is used to. He starts to understand his life, but his not pleased with the ugly truth.

The close-ups of Brandon’s face during some of his climaxes show that he is not always as much in a state of arousal or pleasure as he is in pain. Indeed, some of the film’s sex scenes do not really focus on the sex itself, but on Brandon’s face and the grief it shows even when he is being pleased by a random woman he picked up from some bar. Roger Ebert phrased it perfectly in his review, where he wrote “The close-up limits our view to his suffering. He is enduring a sexual function that has long since stopped giving him any pleasure.”

It is indeed clear that sexual intercourse is no longer exciting to this man; certainly not as exciting and adventurous as it once must have been. He simply needs it in the same way humans need food and water. He has convinced himself that he can’t live without it. He may have forgotten that the experience is at its most agreeable when emotions are involved.

Shame is a powerful and beautiful yet occasionally greatly disturbing film, which shows what genuinely daring directors and actors are able to create. An unpleasant but wonderful and unusual film that stands out in the pile of films Hollywood provides us with every few weeks. But of course, you all already know this, at least most of you, because most of you, and let’s face it, most likely saw it upon its original release, which was a while back, and heard of its inpact on critics soon after.

It didn’t arrive in my hometown until yesterday, at which point I attended it with my partner in film-/video-making Viktor Dahlberg. We were alone in the theater. It is saddening to me that such a magnificent film gets ignored where I come from, because people are too busy with Puss In Boots. Me and Viktor both laughed when I purchased a Puss In Boots-themed pop corn and soda before seeing Shame.

I wish I saw this in 2011. It would’ve easily made my list, no questions asked. Perhaps I can simply consider it one of the best of 2012 instead?

4.5/5 whatever.

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