The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2011
MPAA Rating: NC-17
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badge Dale, Nicole Beharie
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Music by: Harry Escot
Written by: Steve McQueen & Abi Morgan
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 17, 2012
"We aren't bad people, we just come from a bad place"
Shame tells the riveting story of Brandon, a handsome businessman with a dark and destructive secret. His solitary existence is shaken by the unexpected arrival of his sister Sissy, another damaged soul who brings memories of a painful shared past.
Brandon (Michael Fassbender) is a single New Yorker who on the surface is living the dream. He has a good job, a high rise apartment, and has a way with the ladies. A closer look reveals a deeply troubled individual that shuns intimacy with women but feeds his carnal desires with a compulsive addiction to sex. When his wayward younger sister (Carey Mulligan) moves into his apartment and stirs up memories of their shared painful past, Brandon's insular life spirals out of control until his self loathing and shame lands him at rock bottom.
Shame is a dark, graphic and disturbing portrait of a man left to his devices in a world that is tailor made to feed his addiction. Clearly meant to be a statement piece this is a powerful film both thematically and visually. I must admit that it is much easier to understand the physical addiction to drugs/alcohol where a person becomes dependent on them. As depicted here it is obvious that Brandon's addiction, while clearly psychological, is also a physical dependency brought on as a sort of emotional pacifier. He uses it as a means for immediate satisfaction or high that can be a raw outlet that stems from whatever happened in his past (it is only alluded to in the story). He continually avoids contact with his sister Sissy until she unexpectedly shows up and moves into his place. Her presence seems to dredge up old feelings which only serve to exacerbate his need for pacification. On top of that she has issues of her own which when coupled with their dysfunctional relationship leaves them unable to connect pretty much on any level. The plot focuses primarily on Brandon, the depiction/results of his destructive behavior and the events that lead up to his inevitable descent to rock bottom.
I found the first 30 minutes or so of Shame to move a little too slowly. Beyond that point I began to understand where it was going, the gravity of its message and as with any film that depicts destructive behavior/addiction the inclusion of graphic material to bolster that message. For me it isn't one of those movies that you walk away from feeling good about. I think it is one of those films with a compelling message/story that is meant to leave an impression and does. Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan give riveting performances as director Steve McQueen sketches the grim reality and base emotions that can drive people to extremes. To say that Shame may not be everyone's cup of tea is probably an understatement but if you can see it for what it is I suspect you will appreciate it.
The rating is for explicit sexual content, associated themes and graphic nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Shame comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 37 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate 3 Mbps.
In looking at this video presentation as a whole I found it to be satisfactory but not among the better new release Blu-ray titles I have seen. Contrast is held in check and blacks are deep but slightly crushed. Shadow detail isn't definitive however depth of field during low level segments is appreciable. Color balance is good as both primary and secondary are cleanly rendered with a reserved level of saturation and depth. Skin tones are mildly pallid but not unnatural. Resolution and clarity is estimable although definition can be a bit inconsistent which leaves some shots appearing flat with the finest gradations obscured. This appears innate and affects both wide angle and close ups. Luckily it isn't prevalent as more often than not images appear well resolved with discernible definition and appreciable rendering of fine detail. I didn't observe any distracting signs of video related artifacts or noise.
The lossless DTS-HD MA soundtrack has good dynamic range and detail rich clarity that enables the detection of subtle background sounds within the acoustic environment created by the surround mix. Dialogue is firmly planted in the center channel which clearly renders voices and effects with appropriate distinction and tonal balance within the front soundstage. Low frequency effects aren't intense but the subwoofer is kept busy as it works in tandem with the rest of the system to appropriately convey the low level bass associated with the film's recorded elements.
- (HD) Focus on Michael Fassbender - 3 minute featurette
- (HD) Director Steve McQueen - 3 minute featurette
- (HD) The story of Shame - 3 minute featurette
- (HD) A shared vision - 2 minute featurette
- Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Michael Fassbender - 5 minutes
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
- Bonus DVD
- Digital Copy
Shame is a dark, graphic and disturbing portrait of a man left to his devices in a world that is tailor made to fuel his dependency. It is a powerful and thought provoking expose on sexual addiction that features riveting performances and apt direction by Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan and Steve McQueen. It makes its way to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring good overall high definition audio/video and a light supplemental offering that includes insights from the cast/filmmakers. To say that Shame may not be everyone's cup of tea is probably an understatement but if you can see it for what it is I suspect you will appreciate it. In that vein I would recommend a rental for first time viewers.
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