Fassbender Wows in Shame

Critics mixed on Steve McQueen's sex addiction tale
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2011 10:40 AM CST

Shame tells the story of a sex addict’s joyless need for physical pleasure, and Michael Fassbender offers a stunning performance, critics say. But they’re divided over whether the film has much else to offer:

  • Fassbender’s work “may lay claim to this year’s title of most outstanding performance in a mediocre movie,” writes Dana Stevens in Slate. “This sleek-looking but curiously unfocused character study never quite gets down to the business of showing us who Brandon is, but boy, does Fassbender make him into a captivating enigma.”

  • Director Steve McQueen tries hard, but he doesn’t quite succeed, notes AO Scott in the New York Times. The film is “ caught between therapeutic melodrama and melodramatic despair.”
  • Roger Ebert is less dubious. “This is a great act of filmmaking and acting,” he writes. But with all its graphic despair, “I don't believe I would be able to see it twice.”
  • In the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan is impressed with the movie’s “dispassionate treatment of a disturbing topic.” He agrees with Ebert: Thanks to Fassbender, it’s “a film that is difficult to watch but even harder to turn away from."
Indeed, Shame is the latest of many films you won't want to see twice . (More Steve McQueen stories.)

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