How Gratuitous Is Michael Fassbender’s Nudity in Shame?

Michael Fassbender in ‘Shame.’ Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Steve McQueen’s sex addiction drama Shame comes out tomorrow, and much of the prerelease attention has centered on one unlikely but prominent co-star in the NC-17 film: Michael Fassbender’s penis. “Some of us have them and most of the rest have seen them, so what’s the big deal?” Fassbender griped to us earlier this month, but since Ewan McGregor in the nineties, few male stars have deigned to take it all off onscreen. Still, if there’s one compelling reason to drop trou, it’s for a hopeful awards season contender! And so, just as we did last year with the frequently unclothed Anne Hathaway in Love and Other Drugs, we’ve decided to supply helpful, artistic justifications for all seven instances of nudity in Shame. Be warned: Sexual spoilers are forthcoming.

One minute in: In the very first shot of the movie, a nude and glassy-eyed Fassbender lays splayed out on his bed, his lower half covered only by a haphazardly applied bedsheet. After a long beat, he climbs out of his bed, logging his first full-frontal moment.
What this means artistically: “Here it is, folks! Literally 60 seconds after a dancing popcorn and soda exhorted you to to go to the lobby, we have given you the famous Fassdong. Now, can we move on like mature viewers?”

Two minutes in: After having sex, Fassbender walks around his apartment and checks his answering machine messages (people still have those?) in a routine fashion. He remains full frontal throughout.
What this means artistically: “Though getting laid often and having a terrific body may seem like a blast, do you see the torment and sadness in Fassbender’s expression? … Eyes up here, audience. That’s not where his expression is.”

Four minutes in: Different day, same shit: A going-through-the-motions Fassbender once again strolls full-frontal out of his bedroom, checks his messages, and proceeds to the bathroom. This time, though, we watch him from behind as he takes an extended piss.
What this means artistically: “This movie is definitely not War Horse.”

Twenty minutes in: Carey Mulligan makes her considerably less heralded nude entrance, and like Fassbender before her, she is full-frontal in her very first scene in the movie.
What this means artistically:Shame is so daring that we got an Oscar-nominated English rose to completely disrobe and that’s maybe the fifth most notable thing we have to offer!”

One hour and six minutes in: His attempts to masturbate thwarted by a nosy sister, Fassbender once again shows his ass while grappling with Mulligan.
What this means artistically: “He’s naked with his sister, and they’re acting like it’s normal! What does it mean, and can you handle it? This is some Stephanie Seymour shit right here, folks!”

One hour and nine minutes in: Fassbender has a nude liaison in the Standard Hotel and suffers a significant emotional setback.
What this means artistically: “Pity this man, for he can only consort with beautiful naked women he barely knows. Oscar voters, you’ve been there, right?”

One hour and twenty-six minutes in: Break out the red-tinted sex club, ménage à trois, and cry-orgasming: It’s time for the saddest sextravaganza this side of Pier Paolo Pasolini!
What this means artistically: “While Michael Fassbender and several gorgeous actresses are nude throughout — and wait, is that analingus? — the sex they’re engaging in is self-destructive and soul-destroying, even if it will admittedly make for terrific screen captures on Mr. Skin.”

How Gratuitous Is Michael Fassbender’s Nudity in Shame?