To say that this movie deals with addiction in a way that is uncomfortable to watch, deal with, and even be in the same room with does not give it enough credit.
Shame is more than beautifully acted, it is silence and pain, it is discomfort and loneliness, and it is gorgeously shot and terribly distant all at once.
I loved and was discomfited by this movie. Later I heard people talking about the movie and how sexy Fassbender was in the movie, and I was a little uncomfortable with that idea. I’ve seen Fassbender in several roles over the years, and he is pretty well full on naked in this movie and does all kinds of sexual acts, but at no time did I think he was sexy.
He and Mulligan just seem like such a mess. Two broken people with a shared history of horrible that can’t connect to the world around of them. They can’t connect outside; they can’t numb what is inside of them, and through the film they barely seem able to stand being around each other. The characters are impossibly fragile and in pain, but struggle to move forward.
What makes this movie work is not that anything is fixed or explained or mended by the end of the movie. Nobody makes a big decision to change or end their destructive ways, but they speak to each other, there is motion and the idea of connection – no matter how wispy.
The movie isn’t easy to watch, and it is painful, but it is so beautiful, I can’t imagine skipping because it is at times uncomfortable.