Given the potentially alarming and immediate access to all things of a sexual nature now available not only across the world wide web but also outside of cyberspace, it was only a matter of time before cinema embraced the subject matter in an intelligent and thought provoking manner.
Director Steve McQueen made his name with Hunger (2008), a film that examined the final days of Irish republican and prisoner Bobby Sands, his new feature sees the emerging film maker team with writer Abi Morgan to tackle an equally provocative subject matter.
Shame (2011) covers the taboo theme of sex addiction and the destructive nature that a compulsion to a way of life can inflict not only upon the individual but also those close to that person.
The modern setting of New York acts as the backdrop to McQueen’s feature which follows the activities of Brandon Sullivan (Michael Fassbender), an individual whose carefully cultivated social and private life combined with the environment of the city allows him to increasingly fuel his sexual appetite.
A way of life that will be firstly disrupted and then questioned with the arrival of Brandon’s sibling Sissy Sullivan (Carey Mulligan) and a series of events that threaten to undermine an increasingly complex and consumptive lifestyle.
The initial footage released with the trailer for Shame hints that Fassbender is about to deliver a heavyweight performance that is both understated and extremely introspective whilst Mulligan may also emerge as a major contender come the award season with what may be an emotional tour de force.
With brooding cinematography by Sean Bobbitt that manages to capture both the seedy and private world of city life along with an intensely moody score by composer Harry Escott, McQueen’s study of the destructive nature of addiction and modern society has already met with critical acclaim and nominations ranging from the L.A. Film Critics Association to both the Venice and London film festivals respectively.
Hopefully this intense character study will continue to find an audience upon its upcoming general release and deliver on its premise of providing thought provoking and grown up cinema.
Shame opens across the UK on 13th January 2012.