Shame: The Unexpected Virtue Of Incognito Browing

Before the celebrity nude I-Cloud hacking scandal. Before Miley Cyrus rode demolition machinery in nothing but her birthday suit with a flagrant disregard for all known health and safety protocol. Before the Lannisters brought incest back in vogue. Before I ran out of all vaguely relevant pop culture references. There was only ONE way to see your favourite celebrities naked and that was by actually watching the fruits of there labour. This is far too much work for the average soul. So I have done it for you!

Today we are talking about Shame: a Steve McQueen film starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan. Here is the trailer:

But 2 things before we get started:

1) Apologies for the absence. I have been snowed under a pile of work, laziness and the simultaneous induction of awe and woe courtesy of Game of Thrones. It will not happen again. To make amends there are several posts coming this week!

2) During this film you see Mr Fassbender’s penis in all its uncensored glory along with a lot of other things. If that is not your cup of tea then this may not be for you.

So lets get right down to brass tax. This film is, at least superficially, about a man’s relationship with sex. This isn’t necessarily a healthy relationship  but hey it’s a start.

Here are the film’s important stats!

shame stats ppt

Brandon (Fassbender) is a high-functioning sex addict, as made apparent by the slew of women he makes his way through in the first 5 minutes. This opening is not subtle but it is effective in setting the tone for the movie. Grey, bleak and minimalist. Dialogue is sparse. The colours are bland. And the performances by its lead actors are brilliant.

Brandon’s life is a sorry affair that solely consists of work and meaningless relationships with women. Filling the gaps with enough porn and prostitutes to satisfy his sex addiction and making you glad that you have heard of incognito browsing. Thanks google chrome. Ironically, not even this could save Brandon’s work PC hard-drive from a porn-induced virus.

The only splashes of colour and vibrance arrive in the form of his sister, helpfully called, Sissy (Carey Mulligan). There relationship is intense, unhealthy and full of anger but is the only significant connection in either of their lives.

There are really two key themes this film wants you to discuss. Both of which are well beyond the remit of my own unqualified opinion. Anyway, I am going to give it a go.

1) Lots of sex with lots of people without meaningful connection doesn’t make you happy. The film kind of beats you over the head with this one, make of it what you will. Beyond this there is also the classic ‘too much of a good thing’ moral. Anyway.

The film addresses the issues of consent, prostitution, sexuality and intimacy. Each one of these is exceptionally personal to the individual so rather than tell you what to think I would suggest watching the film and drawing your own conclusions. Although I will say this… just embrace your own sexuality. Love who you love, like what you like, be who you are. Then talk about it with your partner, we will all be healthier and happier for it!

This second issue is actually more important to me.

2) Mental health. Although delivered more subtly this for me is the main arc of the film and was handled brilliantly by Steve McQueen. Throughout the film your focus is continually drawn to the state of mind and mental well-being of Brandon. How does this meaningless sex affect him and his ability to have meaningful relationships You witness his self-destructive behaviours and patterns in all their glory and you see him reach rock bottom before maybe making a change.

Alongside this you have Sissy, who you can only judge through her interactions with Brandon. She comes across as well meaning but lazy, immature and wandering through life without purpose. This assumption is thrown arse over tit by the end of the film, in one of the most hauntingly and disturbingly beautiful scenes I have seen in recent years. Brandon rushes home after connecting the dots when his subway car is stopped after a suicide on the track. The only sound you can here as he sprints home is apiece of uplifting classical music. He enters his pristine white bathroom and finds his pristine, blond-haired and pale skinned sister on the floor. As he tries to help her the only colour in the shot is the blood from her wrists. Later, in hospital later it becomes apparent that this is not an isolated incident and had, in fact, been foreshadowed throughout the film. This has a profound effect on Brandon. You realise now that when Sissy said that she and Brandon need each other, it was not just for Brandon’s sake.

Addiction, whatever the vice, is an obvious problem. And is therefore easier understood, respected and appreciated, especially the requirement for help. Depression and many other mental health disorders are not obvious. The sufferers can take great care to hide it from them. Because there are no surface level problems these diseases are often disregarded, treated with scepticism and ridiculed. This is not acceptable. What we need to do is talk more openly about these issues with friends, family and doctors. Maybe this way we can spread some understanding and acceptance so that people feel comfortable asking for AND GETTING the professional help they need and deserve.

This is a great film focused on some important issues. If you get the chance I would advise you to watch it.





  1. Donna · June 10, 2015

    I knew Magnito had issues, but….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: New Series: Small Slivers of Silver Screen 1 | slatethesilver screen

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