Should we judge Brandon? Steve McQueen doesn’t want to say so. I’m not going to say so either. And whether you do or don’t judge anything or anyone in Shame, the film is never an active agent in who you side with. McQueen’s uncompromising truthfulness offers his scope into the life of sex addict Brandon. He constantly lingers the camera on simple moments, not only asking his actors to deliver an amazing unbroken performance for the various yet always lengthy sets of time he gives them, he offers the audience the whole picture of Brandon’s life and everyone around him.
Whenever McQueen lingers on these close-ups he reminds us that the moments we’re watching are more important than his or her history together. We know what his problems is; if we understand the root of a problem we can begin to solve it: like a therapy session – but this isn’t Brandon’s therapy session, this is his life unfolding before the camera. If we’d had the two siblings explain their history to the audience, we would begin to problem solve for Brandon, but we can’t, Brandon can’t solve these problems by the narrative of the film or by the want of the audience. The film doesn’t allow that. This is a heartbreaking film about a man’s pain when dealing with addiction: the addiction to sex and to loneliness.
We are in the midst of a true artist