Shame (2011) Director: Steve McQueen

The opening of Shame is very similar to American Psycho - in fact, the whole film is like American Psycho...but without the slaughter. Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a handsome and charismatic corporate executive in New York with a plush, clean apartment and a 'hard body'. However, despite his seemingly appealing exterior, he cannot connect to people and is pretty much dead inside. Brandon is a sex addict and, like Patrick Bateman, stalks women - we see him visually penetrating a woman on the subway train, her gaze turning from the initial thrill of the attraction to being very frightened by his stares (yet she comes back for more), and Brandon refusing a cab home with his boss to stalk and shag a woman from a bar. He is predatory, he is fuelled by an addiction, and he experiences absolutely no pleasure whatsoever.

Shame is a brave film for both Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, who plays his troubled sister Sissy. Both roles involve stripping themselves bare - literally - and they have nothing to hide. It's emotionally challenging and the final terrible night out scenario is as brutal and devastating as the finale to Requiem for a Dream. This is not a film for titillation - and anyone who watches it for this will be terribly disappointed. You'll feel as ashamed as Brandon, with his penchant for hardcore pornography, three-ways and, well, not talked about feelings for his sister.

It's evident something awful happened to Brandon and Sissy in their past which makes them the way they are; Sissy says "We're not bad people, we just come from a bad place". Abuse is hinted at...possibly incest. Brandon has MAJOR issues with sex and relationships; he views his dick clinically (a sex tool fuelled on pornography, rather love or intimacy, and for passing urine). He and Sissy do not attempt to shy away from each other when they are naked, and he cannot cope when Sissy brings a man home to his flat - and has sex in his bed.

Shame is beautifully shot; the long shots of Brandon on a restaurant date with a co-worker and him running through Manhattan are glorious in colour and style, almost Drive-like. Steve McQueen is a very exciting young director and it's evident that he and Fassbender bounce off each other, having collaborated previously on Hunger.

There is so much going on in Shame which will leave you emotionally drained - the viscera of what's happening in front of us (the sexual carnage) is hard enough to watch, but what really haunts you is the motives behind it that you never get the answer to. Cinema is meant to move you - and sometimes you come out not being able to quite explain why.
4/5 viruses on my hard-drive