What it’s about: Brandon’s an intimacy-phobe sex-addict living in NYC whose carefully guarded private life gets a bit messier when his younger, equally issue-laden and equally downer, sister moves in with him for awhile.

Who’s in it: Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan

When it came out: 2011

How come you haven’t heard of it (or just seen) it: You’ve heard of it–or you’ve at least heard of Michael Fassbender’s penis in it.  You may not have seen it because of the NC-17 rating. This is not a movie for minors. I don’t even think this is really a movie for 20-somethings. Maintain your romantic ideals, kids! This film is dark.

Why you need to watch it – immediately:

  • Steve McQueen’s direction–it’s a master-class in effective use of camera angles and lighting to create mood.
  • It’s won a gazillion awards, if you’re into that kind of thing.
  • Fassbender and Mulligan are heart-breaking and beautiful and sad and infuriating.
  • It’s probably the most realistic portrayal of sex-addiction ever filmed, and will make you rethink all those “If I was going to be an addict, that’s the kind of addict I’d be” jokes. Addiction is scary, and sex here is the vehicle for destruction.
  • Best rock-bottom scene ever.
  • It’s a film that is less about entertaining you, and more about making you uncomfortable, which is one of the hallmarks of Great Art.
  • To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I liked this film when I first saw it. It left me feeling icky and cold and sad and violated. Watching it again enabled me to get past the shock and go deeper with the characters, if you’ll pardon the pun, to better appreciate the performances and techniques employed.

IreneIrene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at and tweets @irene_karras.

Read more of Irene’s posts.


2 responses to “DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT: Shame

  1. Irene, you’re brave to watch this one again. I thought it was brilliant when I saw it (in theatre), but I didn’t think I had the heart to watch it twice. Such good performances. I read an article about this after it was released, where the film was discussed by real-life sex addicts, and one of them — the only woman interviewed for the article (I think in the Guardian) — said that Mulligan’s character was also a sex addict, it just manifests differently in women than in men. I thought that was really interesting! Anyway, great review!

  2. Jenna- thanks for this comment and sorry it’s taken me so long to respond (I’ve had every plague out here!). Really interesting about Mulligan’s character – I never read her that way. It was almost easier to watch it the seocnd time around (though by no means “easy”). Thanks for your kind words!

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