Despite the onset of adulthood, I’m still one of those people who squirms, then chortles or sucks through his teeth whenever a TV continuity announcer says that the following programme “contains sexual scenes from the start”. I do wish Steve McQueen’s new film Shame came with one of those as a preface. Or maybe, in my case, a warning that “those of a squeamish or sensitive disposition should perhaps look away for the next 101 minutes”.
For all that it’s called Shame, it shows little abashment when laying out, as starkly as is legal, the full, squalid horror of sex addiction. It takes its subject very seriously indeed, thrusting it in front of your eyes and making you watch every grunt and grimace – the camera rarely averts its gaze. Yet, even with a high number of stickily realistic sex scenes, Shame still manages to be a resolutely unsexy film. McQueen’s crowning achievement has been to make sex addiction look as repellent onscreen as heroin addiction. It’s harrowing stuff. Continue reading