Movies; Fassbender Delivers Riveting, Raw Performance

By Moore, Roger | News Sentinel, January 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

Movies; Fassbender Delivers Riveting, Raw Performance


Moore, Roger, News Sentinel


Eye contact is how it begins - a shared glance on the subway, maybe followed by a smile but always cranked up from a glance to a penetrating stare. Brandon, played with a chilling allure by Michael Fassbender, is an old hand at this game - hands touching, not by accident, a gaze so nakedly predatory that a pretty woman might be moved to shift in her seat, cross her legs and get off at the next stop. But not always. Sometimes - oftentimes - there's sex.

And when there isn't, Brandon is compulsively going at it in front of his porn-playing laptop, in the shower or the restroom at the office. This isn't sex. This isn't normal. He knows it, and this is his "Shame."

The latest collaboration between British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen and Fassbender - their "Hunger" was as close to the IRA prison hunger strikes as anyone would care to get - is a creepy but poignant descent into sexual dysfunction. Brandon must have conquests, must find hookers he can hire by the pair, must have voyeuristic assignations in high-rise hotel windows. Sex is beyond compulsion, beyond obsession for him.

It's interfering with work, causing him to prey on women who reject his womanizing boss (James Badge Dale), worried all the while about what manner of porn others will spy on his work computer.

We have barely begun to wonder how he got this way when the phone messages start - "It's me. Pick up. Pick up."

A jilted lover? No. …

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