Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a young, upper-middle class thirty-something living comfortably in a New York apartment. When his unruly sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up again, his tightly controlled routine begins to fall apart, which results in him slipping further into New York's underbelly as he tries to escape her need for connection and the memories of their childhood.
Shame, written by Abi Morgan and Steve McQueen and directed by the latter is an almost controversial film. Fans of American Psycho will feel a distinct connection and influence (sans the murder), as the apathy and systemic emotionless of Patrick Bateman is channelled through Brandon. A fairly realistic observation of the human condition (concentrating on adultery, unfaithfulness, lack of control and a void of connection to other humans), Shame concentrates on physical relationships as a way to escape the lack of expressible emotion in one's mind.
Unfortunately, the over-use of long cuts (a trademark of an art-house, modernist film) and the very obvious lack of dialogue do cause the audience an occasional slip into boredom or desire to check their watches. An unpromising and lengthy opening scene does lend itself to some interesting office scenes, which feature slightly more dialogue and give an insight into some possible character development. This promise is never delivered on and some very talented actors and actresses and left flailing with very little story line or defined character personalities to follow.
The use of sex and one half-second, entirely unnecessary scene involving drug use in this film deems it family unfriendly and paints a very raw and ugly picture of the reality of these mostly bypassed parts of Brandon's home city.
As Shame reaches it's climax (so to speak), again the use of long cuts with that overused, identical piano music in the background, takes away any suspense or welling emotion and only went further to show off humanities own selfishness and the unlikeness of personal growth - whether or not this is an accurate assumption is up to the viewers discretion.
As an official selection of the Toronto International Film Festival, Shame has made it's impression felt, however is lacking in the vital character development needed for an audience to feel a connection to the story being told.
I do recommend this film for film-buffs and curious fans of art-house productions. It requires a very personal and individual investment to truly gain what is there to be gained for each audience member.