Shame is the second feature film from visual artist Steve McQueen, and like his previous work, Hunger, it is visceral and mesmerizing.
Set in Manhattan, the film follows Brandon (Michael Fassbender), a 30-something corporate executive, as he struggles with sex addiction. He has casual encounters with women he meets on the streets, hardcore sex with prostitutes and masturbates to double-anal videos he stores on his hard drive at work.
Though the NC-17 film is rife with sex—in full-frontal detail—there is little pleasure in it. Instead, Shame captures what it’s really like to live with sex addiction: Brandon is devastatingly lonely and emotionally shut off from the world. That is, until his chartreuse sister (Carey Mulligan) comes to live with him, further complicating his life and exposing his shame.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.