The sexual furies that roil the new movie “Shame” are poundingly, startlingly graphic for a mainstream release. (The picture is rated NC-17.)
The film’s protagonist, Brandon Sullivan, played with fearless commitment by Michael Fassbender, is an emotional zombie anonymously employed in a glass-and-steel cubical farm in high-rise Manhattan. Brandon drifts through his workdays in a fog of apathy. His consuming interest is an unending search for orgasm–with prostitutes, with nightly pickups, often with himself in office bathroom stalls and laptop porn sessions in his sterile midtown apartment. It’s not much of a life, but it’s all that this priapic automaton requires.
The English director, Steve McQueen (Hunger), tracks Brandon’s obsessive prowlings with a serene, long-take camera style and carefully controlled color design, cooling out the action with Glenn Gould’s elegant Bach variations. So the blunt full-frontal nudity and frenzied couplings are kept at arm’s length, and drained of erotic sensation. The picture has a flawless visual beauty, but it’s as arousing as a laboratory report.
Although Brandon admits that his longest romantic relationship lasted only four months, some women are drawn to his unapologetic predation.
Read the full review at Reason.com: