It's first and foremost a visual and sonic symphony, and a Dante-esque journey through a New York nightworld where words are mostly useless or worse.
What are people saying?
What are critics saying?
Fassbender, who was, frankly, much sexier and more devilish in "X-Men: First Class," is required to spend much of his time staring with blank intensity into the middle distance.
Shame articulates a shallow, even mundane, understanding of an uninteresting man's sex addiction-in a vibrant city rendered dull and anonymous.
Another creature of need, if the temperamental opposite of self-contained Brandon, Sissy is equally prepared to push her way into his life or push herself in front of a subway. She's also a performer - and Mulligan's blowsy desperation makes for the movie's best turn.
It's neither glamorous nor erotic and director Steve McQueen has taken an unflinching and non-judgmental view of sexual addiction in Shame.
A mesmerizing companion piece to his 2008 debut, "Hunger," this more approachable but equally uncompromising drama likewise fixes its gaze on the uses and abuses of the human body, as Michael Fassbender again strips himself down, in every way an actor can, for McQueen's rigorous but humane interrogation.
Fassbender and his multifaceted allure helps counteract any thematic or conceptual shakiness, as was the case in McQueen's highly uneven debut, "Hunger." One thing's for sure: McQueen has found his De Niro, and he better keep him close.
Director McQueen shares no primal truths, offers no resolutions, and the movie seems pointless. It seems almost wicked to spread on all that enticement and titillation, and then throw the sandwich away.
Rarely has a movie been so sexual without being remotely sexy. Rarely has a guy who might be admired in a sex comedy as a "playa" seemed more pathetic with each fresh conquest.
Driven by a brilliant, ferocious performance by Michael Fassbender, Shame is a real walk on the wild side, a scorching look at a case of sexual addiction that's as all-encompassing as a craving for drugs.