The movie Shame is supposedly about a man with sex addiction. I am not so sure, and I certainly see problems with the story, writing, and casting. Let’s just take my thoughts as I had them during the movie.
You get to see Michael Fassbender fully nude. So if that is on your list of things to do then see the movie. He was walking around his apartment naked, and you even get to see him use the toilet. That might be on some people’s list, too! Speaking of toilets, he left the seat down. Not only that, but later in the movie he goes into a bathroom stall at work, wipes down the seat, and begins to masturbate (while facing the toilet). But he doesn’t lift the seat. Really? You are gonna leave the seat down for that? And why wipe it down beforehand? And even later he was doing some two-way live internet sex video thing and then again went to the bathroom to masturbate (where his sister entered the apartment and walked in on him). Of course, this scene has Judge Reinhold and Phoebe Cates, from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, written all over it.
Anyway. The first thing that pops into my mind, when you see him walking around naked, is the Seinfeld episode about shrinkage (“It Shrinks?” asks Elaine), not that he was shrunk. I wonder if he had a fluffer, or if he self-fluffed? Any man doing a nude scene where his tally-whacker is tallying about on screen is sure to have some prep work in advance. He doesn’t want to be short-changed as George Costanza was.
Now to the meat of the matter … I don’t see that the character is addicted to sex. He is completely incapable of intimacy of any kind with any person. He has no wife, no kids, no pets, no girlfriend, he wishes his sister would butt out of his life, and he has no friends outside of work. His apartment is stark, with little decoration. What he does have is a job and one hobby. His hobby is sex, but I am not sure I see addiction. I see loneliness, and despair. I see a possible toilet fetish. I see the aforementioned inability to relate and connect with people
Case in point. He has his eye on a woman at work. They go out to dinner. Have a real conversation. No kiss goodnight. Later he makes a move on her, she is receptive, and they go to a hotel. He can’t get it up. Why? Because he knows her, and she knows him. He can’t have sex with someone he knows! She leaves and then later in that same hotel room he has some random woman (assumed hooker) up against the window. He doesn’t know her, and so can get it up. The problem is not that he is addicted to sex, the problem is he is incapable of intimacy.
Here is my issue with the story. He has nothing to lose, and he doesn’t lose anything. His sister does attempt suicide, but not so much because of him. There is a vague reference to some family problem, and she has a history of self-mutilation, but she only ATTEMPTS suicide, so he doesn’t lose her. At work they find all sorts of porn on his computer but they suspect some intern instead. Besides, his desk is out in the open, not at all conducive to surfing porn at work! With nothing to lose, no wife or kids, he has no double life. Who is he hiding his “addiction” from? What is he risking?
Here is my issue with the casting and the writing. Michael Fassbender is too good looking. Simple as that. He goes to bars and attractive women are making eyes at him. Why do men have sex? Because they can! It is too easy for him. The character should have been older, heavier, and less attractive. He should be having sex with all sorts of “less desirable” women, so audiences cringe, and question his behavior.
Finally, the ending sucks. The ending is the second of book-end scenes. Early in the movie he is riding a subway and staring down a pretty woman. He just keeps looking at her with a mostly impassive expression. She notices, smiles some, but then gets uncomfortable. She stands to exit the subway, with her wedding ring right in the camera’s lens. He stands behind her. The doors open and she moves quickly away and through the crowd, he loses her. The story progresses. His sister attempts suicide, he walks to the end of some pier and breaks down crying. One would suspect he is calling his lifestyle into question. The last scene in the movie he is riding a subway. The same pretty woman is there. Now she is staring him down, smiling and all. She stands and she still has a wedding ring, right in the camera’s lens. He looks back impassively and the movies ends.
Ooo-ooo. I get it. Open-ended. Does he pursue her? Or is he really going to change? Who cares! Because he is a good looking man, and a pretty woman is putting it out there for him. She is married but so what? He is unattached and a quick romp is not the same as an affair. Besides, her marriage is her concern. What man (especially single) doesn’t want to have sex with a pretty girl? How can he be blamed? It’s not his fault! All is well! Whatever.