Shame a chilly, powerful film

Sex addiction drama peels open the raw side of New York

Shame may shock in its depictions of a compulsive personality, though anyone whose life has been touched by addiction will recognize the spiral. Sex is the motivator here. Brandon (Michael Fassbender giving the year’s best performance, Oscar-snubbed and all) lives a very insular, high-end New York life, allowing him to indulge in his physical needs, but capsized by the unexpected presence of his chanteuse sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan). Their intersecting worlds are cold and blue, with Mulligan’s devastating mid-movie version of “New York, New York” providing the emotional tenor beneath the damage and defenses. Director Steve McQueen’s gift with capturing his performers at their best, combined with a clinical, Kubrickian way with a camera makes Shame an unflinching look at a particular kind of urban vulnerability.

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