DRAMA; 1hr 39min
STARRING: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan
The damned: Fassbender (with Mulligan)
Director and co-writer Steve McQueen (Hunger) isn’t afraid to dig big, black holes for his characters, and Shame is a mineshaft. Fassbender plays cleanly handsome Manhattan suit and sex addict Brandon with the coiled-spring concentration he also brought to Hunger’s Bobby Sands. Brandon is a predator who keeps his emotional margins tightly drawn — not easy when his demanding wild-child sister Sissy (a raw, unleashed Mulligan) makes herself messily at home in his spotless apartment, reminding him of everything he’s determined to forget.
McQueen stays close to his phenomenal leading man as Brandon makes his contained way through a city of cool, sleek surfaces. The key to his character is his silences, which are heavy with meaning and intent. There’s the constant uncertainty of what potentially disturbing action he might commit and how long his ravenous, imprisoning addiction can remain a filthy secret. James Badge Dale, as Brandon’s licentious boss, and Nicole Beharie, as an attractive co-worker with whom he attempts a relationship, give strong and candid performances but Brandon is the unstable access around which they revolve, his disintegration as remorseless as a slow death.