Shame [Celluloid Hero]
To get a rating of NC-17, a movie has to be pretty extreme. Violence and sex are the two main focuses for giving a movie that rating, and “Shame” is full of the latter. Lots and lots and lots of sex, lots and lots and lots of nudity (female and male). The sex isn’t the typical movie-sex, under the blankets or in the dark; this is explicit, leaving little to the imagination. It’s a bit of a shock to see such graphic sex in a regular movie starring a well-known cast, and the risk proves worth it in the end.
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a sex addict. He lusts after nearly every woman he sees, picks up strangers in bars, pays prostitutes, even participates in webcam sex online. On the outside it may appear great, constantly getting laid by a different woman. However, Brandon is unable to control his lust, and his life begins to spiral out of control.
Brandon’s sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up unexpectedly to stay at his apartment, and her presence has a severe negative impact on him. Brandon does a lot to maintain a sophisticated exterior to hide his deviance, but having another person sharing his space starts to expose some of the cracks. His employer finds a plethora of porn on his computer, but luckily they put the blame on a nameless intern. The stresses only further Brandon’s addiction, leading to riskier and riskier behaviors.
Fassbender is a great actor (300, Inglourious Basterds, X-Men First Class, Prometheus) and it’s kind of surprising to see him in a role so sexual, in a movie rated NC-17. That rating is usually a kiss of death for a movie in terms of box office money, but the artistic cred goes up, provided the movie is actually good and not just shock for the sake of shock.
I feel like the movie did stand on it’s artistic merits. It was an interesting story, a look into sexual addiction, and how it sounds great but can really have a crushing effect on someone. I always like movies, directors, and actors who take risks; this was definitely a risky movie, and I feel like it was worth it.
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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “Shame” gets a 7 out of 10.