What you know about Shame is that it's an NC-17 portrait of a sex addict. To a teenager (or those who have never watched an Almodovar film) the taboo rating signifies something immediately forbidden. There will be nudity, there will be sex that somehow qualifies as "more adult" than the MPAA's R-rating. In all likelihood: there will be boobs. It's true. But, you know, where aren't there boobs? So, the thing is that there will also be a penis flopping about somewhere. If you're lucky, it won't belong to Harvey Keitel. What gets overlooked, often times, is that simple body parts do not an NC-17 rating warrant. In the case of Shame, and, in my experience, the case of a great deal of NC-17 'serious' films (versus 'unrated'), anatomy is sullied. Sexualized content is rarely sexy. It will be somehow dirtied up, plot relevant, and often horribly unpleasant. What this really means, apparently, is that when an NC-17 film actually makes it into a theater, the combination of these elements will prove a great annoyance. Personally? I was carded multiple times before the film started, the theater management felt the need to post detailed warnings as far out as the parking garage elevator that Shame contained content of a graphic nature, and that the final usher to check my ID muttered "Good luck" as I walked in. "Don't worry," I assured him, "I won't ask for my money back."
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