I just came back from seeing Shame
. Spoilers follow.
I rather enjoyed it. It's definitely a depressing movie, but I thought it was a really thoughtful, provocative and even heart-breaking examination at sex addiction and the toll it has on someone's life. Michael Fassbender does a really fantastic job as Brandon, and I loved his quiet intensity. I almost wish he didn't cry during the scene where Sissy is singing at the bar, if only because Fassbender is such an emotive actor that he can get across so much without saying a thing. He really owns the movie with his strong, introverted performance and I could relate to him very much. I've lived with people before when I wanted to be isolated, and at times I've felt equally frustrated and confined. In that sense, I could really resonate with Brandon's conflict.
As for his affliction, while I don't have as strong sexual desire as he does, I do have a very high sex drive, and so in some sense I could empathize with some of his plight in that regard. I also thought the movie was wonderfully restrained, especially in dramatic moments that could have quickly become overwrought (such as the "confrontation" scene between Brandon and Sissy, which was acted, framed, directed and written so perfectly; it felt like a conversation I've had with family members, or people that have brought conflict into my life, as cliche as that sounds). Carey Mulligan did a rather splendid job as well in my opinion. I thought she was appropriately vulnerable, even if it veered on manipulation at times, but I've been in her shoes, so I could even sympathize with her as well. I was a little worried during two parts in the film. The first was when Brandon ended up with a guy, mostly because I was concerned the film was going to make this a dramatic and "shocking" moment. However, I felt it was nicely underplayed. It wasn't the fact that Brandon, who appears mostly straight throughout a majority of the film, is having sex with a guy (I don't think it was meant to be titillating or shocking in that sense). I think it was there to show just how low Brandon is willing to venture in order to get his "fix". That moment could have been handled a lot worse, and in less capable hands it probably would have, but I was relieved to see it handled with nuance. The other part in which I was worried was the ending. I knew after the confrontation between Brandon and Sissy that something bad was going to happen, but I liked how the film subverted my expectations in two ways: at first, when we think Sissy has jumped into the subway (which was nicely foreshadowed in the beginning of the film) and then when it is revealed that she cut herself - since I thought she was going to die, and that was going to be the ending. I was worried because I was hoping the film wouldn't have an overwrought, melodramatic ending with a clear message ("This is what happens when you have too much sex!") and I was relieved when Sissy was revealed to be, in fact, alive. The ending was, in my humble opinion, pretty perfect. It was a really great bookend that was fantastically ambiguous. I was very happy with the ending.
Overall, I rather liked the film. I thought almost every aspect was handled with artistic and creative aplomb. The music was subtle but evocative, the acting all across the board was top notch, and the visuals and cinematography was particularly exquisite.