It’s difficult to view movies of such nature with open-minded curiosity. But somehow, the individuality and ruggedness of Michael Fassbender’s character, Brandon, make it axiomatic. Especially when held under the same breath and torch as his sister, Sissy’s (Carrey Mulligan) life.
In “Shame,” the story circles around the life of a sex addict who soon transgresses himself into apathy. Steve McQueen gives us access to a soul who we see extract himself, as the story progresses, from all his sensory experiences.
Brandon’s life is portrayed as being uncomfortably serene; perhaps a contradiction Brandon endures as a reflection of his inner state of mind. Perhaps what we saw was a process, a justification of a crisis in which sex addiction is the tip of the iceberg. And underneath it is a floating mass of years and years of aloneness, frustration, and resentment; the kind that cannot be clocked through time or atoned.
The story gets more and more intense as it progresses. The cinematography is sublime, involved, and specific to the tone of the film. The contingency of the film is tense, unforgiving, and relentless. To watch it is to feel the grudge of contempt and denial. It belongs to a genre that transcends normality by embracing it.