That's right: It's good, jolly stuff, just in time for the holidays.
Yes, there's a lot of sex in this movie. But the crux of Shame is how Brandon deals with his addiction. And Fassbender (perhaps best known for playing young Magneto in X-Men: First Class) portrays this challenge in an open and vulnerable way — both emotionally and physically. For one thing, he's naked often in the movie (no wonder Shame is rated NC-17). But he's also exposed because director Steve McQueen likes to shoot in long takes, with little to no editing. This really gives Fassbender nowhere to hide, and he responds with an impressively subtle performance.
McQueen has made a movie with a few titillating moments. Aside from the graphic sex scenes, there are scenes like one where Brandon is on a date with his coworker and the tension between the two is so thick it can be cut with a knife (yes, it's shot in a single, prolonged take). If only the whole movie was as exciting as that scene. Truthfully, it does drag at certain points. Shame is one of those character-driven, plotless dramas where nothing really happens, and with a running time of an hour and 40 minutes, that's a lot of foreplay before the climax.
When it comes down to it, Shame is just skin deep. It would have been nice to know more about both Brandon and Sissy, and why they've both turned out to be such damaged people, but we don't learn much about either of them, other than that they grew up in New Jersey (and yes, I realize that's enough to make anyone screwed up). These two have a pretty awkward relationship (did they once hook up?), but the film doesn't dive into that much at all. Perhaps that's for the better, though; as it is, watching Shame does make you feel kinda dirty. I'm giving the movie a B.