For more on “Shame,” Elvis Mitchell goes into the mind of director Steve McQueen on The Treatment and Kim Masters talks to the people who sold this risk-taking film on The Business.

“Shame” is the story of handsome, successful young man (Michael Fassbender) whose life has been emotionally eviscerated by his addiction to sex, however he can lay his hands on it (pun intended).  It is graphic sexually and emotionally.

The buzz coming out of the festivals about “Shame” was as loud as a swarm of Africanized Honey Bees.  And a lot of the criticism has been as barbed as a stinger.  Of course, you can expect both the buzz and the badmouthing when a movie takes this many chances…and has this much sex.

The movie making is striking.  The performances are raw and fearless.  And yet…and yet.

There is something suprisingly unemotional about the film.  Perhaps it’s because we’re experiencing the life of a person who has done everything in his power to numb his feelings.  Maybe while there’s so much sex, it’s portrayed mostly in a weirdly antiseptic way – though you could argue that sex in this context - devoid of any feeling - is antiseptic.  Or perhaps it’s because we aren’t made to feel the real consequences of his isolation.

Yes, he’s sad and alone.  But we never really feel what he’s lost.  

I’ve talked to a lot of people who disagree with me vehemently.  In an interview on The Business, one person said they “curled their toes at the beginning of the movie and didn’t uncurl them until it was over.”  It was that tense for them.

One thing’s for sure.  I’m really glad that this problem is getting some attention, and my sense is from talking to people in a 12-step program for sex addiction that while the movie glamorizes the problem a bit (hey – it’s a movie), director Steve McQueen largely gets it right (read more about the movie and sex addiction in a recent article here).

I think people should see this film – and McQueen’s last powerhouse collaboration with Michael Fassbender – “Hunger.”

I’m dying to know what you think about both!  “Shame” opens this weekend.

Here’s the trailer…though it doesn’t tell you much about the movie!

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