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'Shame' on Oscar for ignoring this dangerous drama.

Rod Lott April 30th, 2012

Our daily life is defined by rituals. For you, that may mean a morning cup of coffee or a quick jog before bed. For Brandon Sullivan, the New York City-based protagonist of Shame, it means masturbating at work.


As portrayed by Michael Fassbender (A Dangerous Method), Brandon is a sex addict. When he’s not engaging in sexual activity with strangers, he’s downloading porn on his computers at home and the office. Work, sex, work, sex, work, sex — that’s his existence.

Then his emotionally wounded sister (Carey Mulligan, Drive) has to upend said rituals by temporarily moving into his apartment.

Now on Blu-ray after being unjustly ignored by Oscar, Shame may carry the dreaded NC-17 rating, but don’t mistake it for the very thing with which Brandon is obsessed. A film can be adult in nature without being an “adult film” (the intent behind NC-17’s controversial creation in 1990), and British director Steve McQueen’s follow-up to his acclaimed Hunger makes a strong case for that fight.

As a stark, sterile look at a dirty young man, this is as finely crafted a work as you may see all year, yet its subject matter will result in many a walkout — perhaps from the first scene, in which Fassbender goes full-frontal nude. (It cracks me up that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s disc comes with a digital copy so you can “watch it anywhere!”)  

His bravery in doing so is only a small part of what makes his Golden Globe-nominated performance the most fascinating among all actors in 2011. The guy commits to a part that, in lesser hands, could kill a career, and refuses to shy away from the most problematic material.

It may make you feel uncomfortable; in fact, it should. The most challenging — and potentially rewarding — films do. —Rod Lott

Hey! Read This:
A Dangerous Method DVD review 
Drive movie review 

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