Shame ★★★★½

"We're not bad people. We just come from a bad place."

A chilling, haunting and fundamentally cinematic masterpiece from Steve McQueen. The warm color palette features a shocking contrast to the grimness and bleakness of the story and the complex character development. The way McQueen allows the camera to tell the story is unforgettable. There is a scene similar to the one-shot conversation in Hunger that features Michael Fassbender and Nicole Beharie on a date night at a restaurant in Manhattan, just displaying the date's progression in remarkably truthful and observatory manners. It's scenes like this that really convey McQueen's talent as a filmmaker, as even seemingly boring scenes that might not have much to add to the general narrative are of such high importance.

Michael Fassbender's performance is unforgettable and haunting. It's insane to imagine that there were so many cowards in the Academy who did not dare to nominate Fassbender for the Oscar he undoubtedly would have deserved for this breaktaking piece of work. Carey Mulligan's supporting role is equally memorable. The screenplay already does a fantastic job highlighting character development and bringing their morally ambiguous sides to full display, but Mulligan and Fassbender's performances are what really turn it into such an enthralling and disturbing work.

The wonderful cinematography by Sean Bobbitt and the intoxicating Harry Escott score complement an elegant and smart drama that gracefully balances its challenging subjects. After all, it's a film about sex addiction that features sexual encounters in highly graphic ways, and it would seemingly be easy to dismiss Shame for the visual sexual depictions. However, McQueen swiftly and stylishly avoids the traps of his premise and uses sex as an anchor to tell a story of psychological torment and human frailty and desperation. It's a great film that only gets better with every rewatch.

2011 Ranked
Steve McQueen's Films Ranked

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