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Shame Movie Summary Analysis

Summary Of Movie The Shame (2011)

Plot Of The Movie

             The movie is about a person named Brandon who is an executive and works in a New York City. He has a bad habit of sleeping with prostitutes and he also masturbates at work on numerous times daily. One the day he sees a woman who is wearing an engagement ring and begin to flirt with her but she is uncomfortable and leaves. After that, he goes to the bathroom and masturbates. Brendon and his boss David are also good friends and they are hitting on women in a bar with which Brendon has sex later on Brandon has been ignoring the calls from her sister, Sissy and he comes to know that she is going through a breakup.

At work, his computer laptop gets infected with the virus and him later it was found that the system had a plenty of pornographic material within it. However, the boss, David thought that it was Brandon’s intern who is responsible for all this. Both Brendon and David goes to the bar and watches Sissy’s live performance. This makes Brandon very emotional and David and Sissy have sex with each other in Brandon’s bedroom. Brandon runs away in disgust and later that night Sissy tries to get in bed with Brandon but he refuses furiously and tells her to get out of the room (Sauers, 2011).

Shame Movie Summary Analysis

Then Brandon goes on date with his colleague Marianne. Marianne has been separated recently and is very positive towards commitment with Brandon but Brandon tells her that none of his relations get longer than four months and they both go their separate ways. The same night Sissy comes to know that Brandon is masturbating in his room. Brandon becomes very angry and he disposes of all of his pornographic material as well as his laptop and at work, he approaches Marianne but the same night he is unable to maintain his erection and she leaves. Shortly after that, he is shown having sex with a prostitute in the same hotel room that he booked for Marianne (Sauers, 2011).

One night when he is coming home every passenger is asked to leave the train as it is the case of police emergency and a possible suicide. Brandon immediately calls Sissy but she does not respond. He then frantically runs to home and finds that Sissy is sitting on the floor of the bathroom and both her wrists are slashed. He tries hard to stop the bleeding and then calls for help. Fortunately, she survives and she allows her to rest in the hospital bed. He leaves and starts walking in the run until he falls down and start crying.  After a while, Brandon is shown going through the subway looking around and finding the same woman that is shown in the beginning of the movie. This time around she initiates the flirt however, Brandon hesitates and after that, the screen goes black depicting the blur future of Brandon.

Social Structures And Behavioral Perspective

As the behavioral perspective is related to the emphasizing behavior and there is the greater influence of the society, which may change the person perspective of thinking and in this way, within the social structure, each individual holds the key place and the relationship within these places develop the whole social structure. The social structure influences the people in various different ways. There expectation that is associated with a role and how an individual that holds a place will actually behave. For instance, we expect the doctors to behave in a particular manner. This is called expectation. These positions are directly linked with the relationships and these relationships are known as social networks. Every individual is linked into several different social networks. These social networks include our families, work, and friends. Each of these positions has a certain amount of status associated with it and some of these positions are more important to us. For instance, to one individual his colleagues are a most important while for some of the individuals are family comes first while there are people who care more about their friends.

The people behavior is influenced by the society so these social networks can directly influence the health of an individual along with the values and the occupational attainment as well as it provides the sense to that individual being the part of this society. The role of social support from the family, friends and colleagues can be a huge morale booster for many people as this allows them to keep going for the new achievement. According to numerous researches that have been conducted in the recent times, people who have social networks do not suffer from any mental illness as they don’t have to face the stressful event of life alone. Their social network allows them to share their feelings and this makes them more comfortable in the daily life.

However, there is another view that is associated with this. People who have more positive influence on their social networks are more are healthier and they have a better perspective regarding the social norms and values. On the other hand, the people who have a negative influence on their social networks they might be unhealthy both at mental as well as social level. This directly influences the psyche of the individuals. Better relationships allow the individuals to recover faster from the sickness because they go through lesser stressful times. We all know and it is scientifically proves as well that men who are married live longer than the men who are unmarried.

This happens because when a person has many relationships to care about s/he starts to realize the work which is imperfect and s/he understands that it is not possible to achieve everything all the time. If s/he has no one to care about or no one to share what s/he is going through then frustration creeps in and that person also starts thinking that s/he is not good at anything because the level of expectation go high and it begins to enter the unreal world. Now when that person is expecting too high and the targets are higher as well. The reality turns out to be very harsh and this hurts the individual big time.

Sexual Addiction Of Brandon And Sissy Or Psychoanalytic Perspective

This becomes easier to understand when we talk about the two characters in the movie “Shame”, Brandon and Sissy. They are both addicted to sexual activity and the main reason behind is that they don’t have many relationships to care about and this makes them frustrated and they get rid of their frustration with help of sexual activities. Because humans are social animals, therefore, it is very important for them to have relationships with one another and without this relationship the survival is not possible. The situation of both the charterers can be relate to the psychoanalytic perspective as they were thinking the free association in the world, they were repressing the unconscious impulses, as to finish the anxiety matters, they were indulging in the activities related with dream.

The movie depicts the same idea and is about a brother and sister who are indulged in sexual activities precisely because they don’t have any other relationship. Brandon despite being an executive in New York City only cares about his wild sexual desires for every woman that he sees around him. He has been shown frequently having sex with many people throughout the movie and when he tries to have sex with his colleague Marianne he is unable to get an erection. This is due to the fact that he is going through a stressful time and due to this he is unable to perform when it was needed. However, later on, he is shown having sex with a prostitute. This is because he is more comfortable without relationships as he and his sister; Sissy doesn’t have anyone around them. This fact also makes Brandon very uncomfortable and he also thinks about his sister and her misery.

In the movie Brandon has been considered as a proletariat, as he had no mean of the production, expect wage. This is a fact that the proletariat uses to reduce their frustration and stress at work through the hidden things, such as sex with the prostitutes and masturbating. We can integrate the Marxist point of view with the Brandon, as he wanted the pleasure at low cost or without many on the daily basis. This is true that the labor class, working on the wages in the different organizations often gets frustrated due to the stress and tensions. Similarly, this was happened to him, as depicted his bad addiction.

The childhood of Brandon in the movie has been depicted that he was very shy and often hide different things from family and friends around him. In addition, he used to create the own perception about his parents and family members, which were very open to the sex at that time. Thus, the childhood era does not contain the very good experience from him. He used to masturbate and think about the sex with different girls. Relative to the Marxist point of view, the lack of intention from the parents and the family members is a big reason of this addiction. In his childhood, he was dependent on his parents for different things. Unfortunately, his needs were not fulfilled by the parents. Thus, in a spare time, he used to think different things. In result, the addition of the sex and masturbating came into the life. On the other hand, his sister Sissy was near him as a single positive aspect. However, she did not know about this thinking and addiction earlier. Thus, the childhood of the Brandon was not lucky, as he did not have the own means of production, which is a big cause of this addiction.

The unconscious thoughts and feelings come into the life, as there was freethinking. According to him, a person contains the unconscious thoughts and feeling due to the stress work and lack of having things to do in the life. Interestingly, we can relate this idea with the Brandon, who has been addicted to sex and masturbating. According to this idea, this is all about the nervous system of humans, which compels the different individual to do different things and create the perceptions. The Brandon contained the same unconscious feeling as thoughts due to the intention of the nervous system. This idea tells us that human often has no control over this behavior. He kept the sexual behavior in his mind, which led him to see everything in the context of the sex and pornographically. He saw different things in childhood and the professional life and depicted his addiction. This addiction is pertinent to the Freud point of view, as he has no control on him despite having the shame. Interestingly, this is also the main theme of the story, which has been well elaborated by the director and author. The psychoanalytical method also comes into the life regarding the Freud point of view and the addition of the Brandon in this particular movie. There is a need to consider the Psychoanalytical method to recover or eliminate this addiction. Actually, his sister silly is doing the same job in this movie, which changes the behavior and intention of her brother.

Astoundingly, we can see Brandon’s childhood in this move in the context of the Freud point of view. He kept these unconscious things in the mind in his childhood, which was due to the lack of intentional and isolation. It would have been also another thing. However, the sex addiction was the main problem. The Psychoanalytical method was not used in his childhood to change his intentions. To recover from this problem, one has to derive the insights and hidden intentions from the individual. His sister was also very young at that time. On the other hand, parents did not pay any attentions to their child to change his minds. Thus, this was the bad childhood, which created bad impact on his minds and let him keep sexual aspects in his nervous system.

Cognitive Perspective

The personalities in the movie are have the personalities, related to the theory of the cognitive perspective, as there is the mutual independence and the characters, do not worry or considered the future, they were courageous and physically bold so they experienced leisure.  The pressure associated with work environment also has a huge impact on the individuals’ physical and mental health. The pressure associated with ever increasing performance demand is too much to take for many individuals and time comes when they began to underperform exactly due to the same reason. There is the greater influence of the leisure, which may change the person perspective of thinking and in this way, the brain is asking to take some rest but the work pressure is too much and due to this the health of the individuals starts to deteriorate. Working for long hours also causes the same issue and this can result in influencing the physical and mental health of the individuals.

Working for long hours actually disturbs the working and resting hours of the individuals and creates a lot of disturbance in the mind of the individuals as they have not finished up their work and during the resting hours the person is thinking about his/her unfinished work and due to these thoughts he is unable to take proper rest. When that person is unable to take rest then s/he is not going to perform at work and this not only affects his/her productivity at work but it also influences his/her mental and physical capacities. In the movie, it is not depicted that both Brandon and Sissy have been through any childhood trauma or any other similar sort of issue.

In the movie, however, at the end, Sissy does mention to Brandon on the phone that they both are not bad people and that they have just come from bad places. Other than this there is no hint of previously life of both the siblings and it is unknown that what were the incidents that made them what they are? However, in the movie, no work related issues have been depicted as none of the two were facing any financial difficulties so that to meet the expenses they had to indulge themselves in sexual activities. So, the issue is purely related to their own selves and the social life they have, which is next to none. They both are suffering from mental illness and frustration and due to this they get involve in sexual acts. He did not have his own means of the production his professional life, which increased the stress level in his mind. This is a fact that his boss, who was married, was very open regarding the sexual behavior in the office. He used to make jokes in the office, which increased the stress level. This particular office environment made him the sex-frustrated person in the society, as he pretends himself doing sex with every woman he saw.

The stress of his working environment is also in the limelight due to the sexual behavior of his boss and other staff. Despite having the impaired nervous system, he wanted to perform well with any negative intention. However, his boss was open to sex and pointed him out many time regarding the sex intentions with women and masturbating. The psychoanalytical method also integrates into this situation, as her sister came in and protects him from these intentions. He used the Psychoanalytical method through the realization of emotions and relationship. This was actually the metal training of the Brandon, regarding the behavior, intentions, and emotions. Dramatically, the behavior of the Brandon changed with the passage of the time. Thus, the either ideas or point of views are integrating with the childhood and the stress environment at the office. This is necessary to relate the different theories with this particular behavior of an individual to eliminate the causes along with some effective alternatives. Every perception, intentions or behavior has a cause behind it. The most important thing is to find the insights regarding the intentions and behavior to depict the change.

Trait Perspective

There are the trait perspective that can relate with the personality type, as the characters of the movie are free thinkers, and fulfils their desires, so it means they are extraversion and agreeableness. However, there are domain of conscientiousness and openness at some point, because Brandon and Sissy were indulge in sexual activities and focused on the leisure. The sense of neuroticism was also there as the emotional instability and negative emotions were also there.


The movie can be relate with the behavioral, psychoanalytic, cognitive and trait perspective because different emotions can be seen in the characters of the movie, however, as described above the humans are made social animals and due to this fact, it is important for them to behave in a certain manner. If they do not act in the manner they are supposed to then things are not going to end up in a positive manner. Same goes with Brandon and Sissy, they don’t have any social relationships with any other and due to this they are not content with their lives. They feel depressed and frustrated and this causes them to indulge in sexual activities.

The film has depicted no financial concern and the source of their depression is completely linked with their social behavior which is not normal. This is where they important of social networks and their support come in. Brandon and Sissy have no one to share their feelings with and to share their depression with and there is a space between them both as well despite being caring towards each other. This goes to show the importance of social networks within the lives of human beings and how these social networks shape their lives as well. Thus, we can safely draw the conclusion that social relationships have a major role to play in designing the inspirations and aspirations of humans and this is what explained by Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud in their theories as well.

People tend to adopt the habits of others as well and they get to learn from the experiences of others as well. This shapes their lives and what they do. The social nature of humans makes them think about the direction of life when they don’t have these interactions they don’t have a direction and they also start to lack the drive as well. Hence, it is very important for people to develop positive social interaction with others so that they can contribute towards the society in a productive manner. This is what separates them from animals and this is exactly why the humans are believed to work in collective approach where they can work together and be a better individual in the society. This is what explained by Marx and Freud in their theories and the movie also explains the same idea emphasizing the fact that social networks and interaction have a major role to play in shaping the lives of humans.

  • Collins, G. N., & Adleman, A. (2012, February 26). The Movie Shame and the Myth of Sexually Compulsive Gratification. Retrieved from The Huffington Post: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/new-harbinger-publications-inc/shame-sex-addiction_b_1163369.html
  • Cox, J. (1998). An Introduction to Marx’s Theory of Alienation. International Socialism(79).
  • HEBF Latest. (2012, September 14). The Importance of Social Interaction to Human Health . Retrieved from HEBF Latest: https://www.hebiofeedback.co.uk/hebf-latest/the-importance-of-social-interaction-to-human-health/
  • Mental Health Foundation. (2016, November 11). Work-life balance. Retrieved from Mental Health Foundation: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/w/work-life-balance

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