For a serious actor, (see “A Dangerous Method” in which he also sheds clothing) Fassbender, spends a great deal of screen time here either naked (from every possible angle) or in rumpled underwear that never saw a CK label. It’s what you call a “brave” performance. But while he scrubs away his “shame” after every sexual encounter (at least those that take place in his apartment), it still looks like his sheets need to be changed.
Although I think McQueen may have had groundbreaking in mind when he conceived this motion picture, I found it difficult to assign it a place in the pantheon of films like “I Am Curious Yellow” and “Last Tango in Paris” that have broken sexual barriers. McQueen’s determination to shock may be successful, but without any insight into Brandon’s psyche, he’s not very stimulating.
The one clue we’re offered as to what makes him tick comes from Sissy, who briefly consoles him by assuring him that, whatever it is that ails them as brother and sister, they “come from a bad place.” According to the screenplay, it’s somewhere in New Jersey.
“Shame” opened in New York and Los Angeles on Dec.2 and will be “staggered” throughout the rest of the country in upcoming weeks.