Set in New York, Michael Fassbender plays a cool headed businessman consumed by sex addiction. An unscheduled visit by his flaky and vulnerable sister leads him to face up to his demons.
Upon viewing I was left cold by this film, its stark visuals, lack of dialogue and abundance of sex just by passed me. Fassbender’s character was not someone to whom I could relate to, and admittedly I dismissed this film too readily as over hyped arty crap. I just plain did not get it. The point it was trying to make simply didn’t click with me. But strangely throughout the week my mind kept pondering about it, flashing up key scenes and moments. The aftertaste of it seemed to intrigue me more than the viewing itself.
It was the intense silence and darkness of New York that had stuck with me. So often do we see the hustle and bustle of The City That Never Sleeps, its lights and its glamour, that to see it from another angle, makes it very impacting. Fassbender’s character is a broken human being, a victim of a culture that wants everything and wants it immediately. He’s merely been reduced to the most base and primal of urges, his constant and unyielding need for sexual contact. His jungle is New York by nightfall, away from the tourist images and scenes of sitcoms, his New York is a dark and seedy place, of subway journeys eying up potential prey. He lives an isolated life, shattered by his sister’s unwelcome arrival. It’s only after tragic circumstances that Fassbender’s character comes to realise the depth of his depravity and the extent of his despair.
Shame has a very pertinent cultural commentary about the nature of Big City living and the anonymity it throws over people. It highlights how alienating and lonely the world can be and how in a world of Facebook and internet forums that people can stop genuinely connecting with one another or plain just forget how to. Arty and powerful stuff, with an awful lot of sex.