MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Each year, an actor seems to rise above the rest, and 2011 was the year of Michael Fassbender. He spread his acting talents from superhero tent pole releases like “X-Men: First Class” to the arthouse fare, including “A Dangerous Method” and the controversial NC-17 rated indie film “Shame.”
It was “Shame” that was his greatest achievement, however. In the movie, he plays a sex addict struggling to come to terms with his compulsions. It’s a brave move for Fassbender because he is exposed, literally and figurative, throughout the film. It also dispels a lot of myths about sex addiction and perversions because Fassbender is such a charismatic guy and not a creepy guy lurking around an old adult book store.
“Shame” is an in-your-face drama that offers an unflinching, realistic view of addiction. Although filled with nudity and sexual moments, this film is not erotic at all, highlighting the emotional turmoil of Fassbender’s character rather than fetishizing his affliction.
Also knocking it out of the park with a daring and brave performance is Carey Mulligan as his sister, who comes to live with him for a brief period of time. They have a strained relationship, to be sure, which slips into an uncomfortable nature quite a few times.
It is a shame that Michael Fassbender was overlooked by the Academy during the Oscars, but this is par for the course for actors who deal with such tawdry roles. Michelle Williams can get nominations for her NC-17 work (in “Blue Valentine”) as well as her arthouse films (like “My Week with Marilyn”), but the mere fact that Fassbender shows off his not-so-little Fassbender quite brazenly might have cost him some Oscar gold.
Deliberately paced and slow-moving at times, “Shame” is still a fantastic movie, unlike any other you will see anytime soon. It’s not always an easy film to watch, but it is a fascinating one. Fassbender manages to be charming, smarmy, sexy and revolting all at the same time. Even though the film stalls a couple times in its almost too-deliberate pacing, it’s the performances that carry it along.
The Blu-ray comes with a second disc for DVD use and Digital Copy. Bonus material on the Blu-ray disc includes a focus on both Michael Fassbender and director Steve McQueen. Additional featurettes include “The Story of Shame” and “A Shared Vision.” Finally, the features wrap up with Fox Movie Channel’s “In Character with Michael Fassbender.”