Shame ★★★½

It is a testament to this film's raw power that it makes sex, especially in such a large quantity, look so unappealing. Addiction can come in many forms, and while it is often a joke that sex addiction is something we should all be so lucky to suffer from, what we see here is no laughing matter. There is no joy, as going through the motions seems only to function as a means of fending off withdrawal symptoms. McQueen's direction and Fassbender's incredible performance come together to paint a stark picture of a man who, on the surface, we may want to be, but what lurks underneath is far from enviable. Carey Mulligan is great in the sister role, with McQueen staying away from shedding too much light on their obviously complicated past. You get to see these characters as the sum of their flaws, not the root causes. They are both addicted to self-abuse, at opposite ends of the spectrum, and it really adds layers to their dynamic. There is some wonderful photography on display here, and for a film with such an emphasis on sex, nothing ever feels gratuitous. By focusing on sex as a necessity (and source of shame, hence the title) and not a pleasure, the movie takes the steam out of the act almost entirely, and you're able to look past the skin to see what's underneath. And, like the main characters, you may not like the naked truth you have to face.

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