Shame pits Brandon (Michael Fassbender) as a man who looks like he has it all.
He’s tall, attractive and has a posh apartment which he keeps spic-and-span, so why does he feel the need to use prostitutes rather than talk to women he would come across generally in normal life?
In the meantime, he’s constantly ignoring phone calls from a woman who keeps ringing and leaving messages which he doesn’t return.
It turns out the calls are from his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) who arrives unannounced and upsets his cosy little life of living on his own, especially causing him to spit his dummy out when she has a man round.
As well as being finickity about having anyone round his apartment, Brandon is a sex addict but suffers from issues with intimacy, and he’s also awkward around women in general, so when going out for a beer or three with boss and friend David (James Badge Dale), he just can’t get a conversation started and refuses to even have a dance with them, while David charms them like there’s no tomorrow.
Shame is certainly a curiosity and is engaging for a fair amount of its 101-minute running time, but I found this to be mainly for its arty looks, most notably several one-take scenes that show a lot of passion in director Steve McQueen‘s work.
However, while it is worth a watch for sure, with solid performances from the two leads, it is far from the opus that the media would have you believe. Still, it’s a step up from 2008’s Hunger, which bored me rigid.
I’ll also give special mention to redhead Lucy Walters, simply known as “Woman on Subway Train”. Because she is incredibly hot.
One day, McQueen and Fassbender will make an iconic film together, but this is not it.
Presented in the original 2.35:1 theatrical ratio and in 1080p high definition, the picture never looks anything other than fantastic with bold, well-defined colours, often used in dark locations. For the record, I’m watching on a Panasonic 37″ Plasma screen via a Samsung BD-P1500 Blu-ray player.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version, and it’s mostly used for dialogue, ambience and background music. It never pushes the boat out, but occasionally does a fine line in atmospheric, haunting score.
The extras are as follows:
- Q&A with Michael Fassbender (35:51): Filmed at the Hackney Picture House in January 2012 with Dave Calhoun, Film Editor from Time Out, this is a pretty engaging segment, although it does tend to meander a bit in the middle. However, it does come back up with the audience members’ questions as it goes on.
- Interviews (3:18): Two very brief Q&As, one with Michael Fassbender (3:18) and one with Carey Mulligan (2:17) with ‘silent’ questions, shown as captions, but these segments are too short to be of any major benefit.
- Trailer (1:45): In 2.35:1 and I think it gives too much away, as it’s the kind of film you want to see complete itself on its own.
The menu features brief clips of Fassbender, standing around, having a fag, with the theme in the background. There are subtitles in English only and the total number of chapters is an okay 16. Not great, but passable.
One of my bug-bears comes up with this disc as it’s another case of putting trailers before the main menu, like a rental video from the 80s. Why do they do this? They should be in the extras menu – the trailers at least, and nowhere else. You pay for the disc and you don’t need extra advertisements as if you’re in the cinema.
Running time: 101 minutes
Cat no: MP1144BRR0
Released: May 14th 2012
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Techniscope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Steve McQueen
Producers: Iain Canning and Emile Sherman
Screenplay: Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen
Music: Harry Escott
Brandon Sullivan: Michael Fassbender
Sissy Sullivan: Carey Mulligan
Woman on Subway Train: Lucy Walters
David Fisher: James Badge Dale
Marianne: Nicole Beharie
Alexa: Mari-Ange Ramirez
Steven: Alex Manette
Samantha: Hannah Ware
Elizabeth: Elizabeth Masucci
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.