Screen Gems

Michael Fassbender stripped bare is nothing to be ashamed about

Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.

The Shocker: Shame

Michael Fassbender goes full monty and gives one of his best performances in this indie film from 2011. Fassbender stars as Brandon, a successful New York businessman who can never get enough sex. His daily life of bedding as many women as possible gets upended by the arrival of his sister, Sissy (Carey Mulligan), an emotionally unstable singer with whom Brandon has an uncomfortable relationship, to say the least.

Over the course of Sissy’s visit, Brandon continues to bed as many women as possible, though it becomes clear that he can only get aroused in casual encounters, never when he has an emotional connection to a partner. By the time he visits a gay club to have sex with a man, the hook-up feels less like sexual fulfillment than an act of pure desperation.

Shame is one of the best films ever made about sex addiction–still a taboo subject, even within the queer community. For Brandon, sex has no emotional or erotic value; it’s simply a method of self-validation, and a means to numb deep emotional pain. Both Mulligan and Fassbender approach this material with total fearlessness to their extreme credit.

Apart from two towering performances, Shame proves that it takes more than a whole lot of sex to make a sexy movie.

Streams on Amazon, iTunes, VUDU & Hulu.