For the last couple of years, Michael Fassbender has been cinema’s golden boy. Since his appearance in 2008’s Irish drama Hunger, he has appeared in everything from indie dramas to summer blockbusters. Shame is his bravest, most provocative outing yet and a central performance that will not be easily forgotten.
Shame follows New York businessman Brandon (Fassbender), whose life revolves (quite bluntly) around sex. Doing it, watching it or even just the odd job in the shower – this guy is randy as hell. When his troubled younger sister Sissy (fellow Brit Carey Mulligan) arrives unexpectedly, Brandon is forced to come to terms with the seriousness of his addiction, while trying to keep his eye on the wayward Sissy.
Fassbender’s performance is incredibly courageous, intense and thought-provoking – one that has seen him as a regular nominee in this year’s awards season (but not one in the 2012 Academy Awards?! Snubbed!). He has the balls (giggity) to portray a subtly haunting character, making Shame more than just a ‘sex drama’. Carey Mulligan is just as quiet and vulnerable, but the way she puts her sexuality out there rather than keep it confined to her internet service provider shows her as the ying to Brandon’s yang: both different parts to the same element.
Steve McQueen’s minimalist approach to putting Brandon’s very clean-cut life on screen is effective; it simplifies what is a very complex situation involving two very complex central characters and highlights how empty their lives essentially are – not bad for the dreaded ‘second feature.’
Shame is one of this year’s boldest dramas. Watch it for the performances – Fassbender’s Academy Awards snubs is a big mistake. Huge.