British Board of Film Classification

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SHAME artwork


Type of media Film

Approved Running time 100m 45s

Release date 13/01/2012

BBFCInsight Contains strong sex and sex references

Genre(s) Drama

Director(s) Steve McQueen

Cast includes Michael Fassbender, Carey Mulligan, James Badger Dale, Amy Hargreaves

Cut This work was passed uncut.

BBFCinsight publication date 03/01/2012

Note: The following text may contain spoilers

SHAME is a drama about a man called Brandon who is addicted to casual sex. When his young sister Sissy comes to stay indefinitely at his apartment in New York, Brandon's carefully balanced life is thrown into disarray. The film was classified '18' for strong sex and sex references.

The BBFC's Guidelines at '15' state 'Sexual activity may be portrayed without strong detail. There may be strong verbal references to sexual behaviour, but the strongest references are unlikely to be acceptable unless justified by context'. Because much of the film concerns the sexual life of the main characters, there are strong verbal sex references throughout. These include a scene in which a topless woman on a pornography website encourages Sissy to touch her own breasts, and a scene in which Brandon chats up a woman in a bar using sexually explicit language to describe what he'd like to do to her. In terms of the depiction of sexual activity, there is a fleeting montage of pornographic images as Brandon flicks rapidly through the pages of the magazines he keeps in his room, as well as a shadowy impression of a man performing fellatio on another unseen man in a gay club that Brandon walks through. The film also contains a scene in which Brandon thrusts into a naked prostitute from behind, and another scene in which he has sex with two prostitutes at once. Although there are no explicit shots of genital nudity during the scenes between Brandon and the prostitutes, the overall impression of sexual activity is adult in both tone and presentation, and therefore more appropriately classified at '18'.

The film also features multiple uses of strong language, sometimes used in an aggressive manner or in a crude sexual sense. The film also contains a scene showing the bloody aftermath of a suicide attempt, although without any clear detail of injuries, brief sight of the main character snorting a line of cocaine, and a short fight in which a man is punched and kicked below screen.


Momentum Theatrical
Classified date(s)
Main language
Submitted run time
100m 45s
Approved footage
BBFC reference
Registration number

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