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My question is about a scene in the movie Shame starring Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan directed by Steve McQueen.

Train Scene 1 : In the beginning of the movie, Brandon(Michael Fassbender) is in a subway and while travelling he keeps looking at a very attractive woman and the woman also responds to him with smile and all of a sudden her smile turns into a serious expression and tries to leave the train and Brandon follows her to catch her but she disappears in the crowd.

My analysis : In the train, The attractive lady is also into Brandon but suddenly she realizes that she's married, (I assumed it, since she's wearing two rings.) so she feels guilty for responding to a random person and leaves the train to escape from Brandon.

Train Scene 2 : In the ending of the movie, again Brandon and the attractive lady starts looking at each other. This time, the woman holds on to a pole and she wears only one ring.

My analysis : As she's wearing one ring this time, my brain told me that she's not married any more and not guilty to get close to Brandon.

My question is, whether my analysis is correct or not? If it's correct, Why the director made the scene so complex to understand by making the lady character to wear two rings in the beginning and one ring later? Why can't simply make the woman to wear one ring in the beginning and no ring later so that audience can understand that the lady is neither married nor guilty to get close to Brandon since both are into each other.

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In my opinion your analysis is correct but hoping someone else can give more elaborated approach. – Ankit Sharma Feb 25 '14 at 8:38
Even I expected no ring to be on her finger, but when there was one ring, I was a bit confused. But I also agree with the accepted answer. Maybe it simply suggests that she has embraced who she is. – IcyFlame Sep 18 '15 at 19:26
I think these are all great answers and I believe the makers of the film intended for a discussion such as this to take place. In regards to the second ring (apparently her engagement ring) that is absent in the second train scene, I personally believe that it's disappearance signifies that this woman is out of the so called "honeymoon" phase of her relationship with her partner and therefore more likely to cheat on them with Michael Fassbender. – Aquarius Apr 27 at 3:07
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I'm not sure that the rings bear as much significance as you're inferring.

Why, for example, do two rings mean someone is married, but one rings doesn't? To indicate someone is married, she (Lucy Walters) need only wear one ring: her wedding ring. In the first scene she is also wearing her engagement ring, but this doesn't neccesarily indicate anything further. The fact that she still wears a ring in the second scene doesn't do anything to imply she is divorced.

The first scene is a silent correspondence between the two, a negotiation of intent. The smiles indicate they are attracted to one another, and as the girl closes her thighs over her hands she indicates some sexual repression, the proximity of her hands to her crotch suggesting sexual stimulation.

She then considers something, and feels the titular shame of the Movie. Standing up to leave the train, she shows Brandon she is married by revealing her rings. He stands behind her, placing his hand underneath hers (in simulation of holding her hand) as if to indicate he still wants her and is uncaring as to her marital status. His proximity possibly suggests he wishes the altercation to be sexual charged, not neccesarily emotional.

As she leaves the train, he follows her, in pursuit. This is at the start of the scene , and establishes Brandon as sexually predatory..

The end of the film shows a reversal of this situation, and the second subway scene is telling.

She has obviously been on some kind of sexual journey too, but the culmination of her experiences has brought her back to Brandon. Part of the enigma of the film is the fact that we don't know what's happened to this woman and what has made her re-approach her stance on soliciting strangers for sex. She has somehow, become more like Brandon.

The fact that she still wears a ring on this finger indicates that she is still married. She has just embraced her infidelity, and wishes to explore the experience of it. The fact we see her ring is, I think, supposed to be a visual motif the audience will attach to this non-speaking, ambiguous (but still important!) character so the audience recognizes her and completes the cyclic narrative of the Movie.

I don't think the rings (and their amount) indicate anything beyond the obvious, and as a narrative technique.

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Lucy walters is the actress, not the character so it is a misnomer to claim 'lucy walters is married...'. If someone wears a wedding ring on their left index finger, it's because they are married. If she were divorced it stands to reason she would have removed it. I don't understand what you're basing your divorced assumption on, to be honest. I can see how wearing two rings in one scene and only 1 in another an be a point of speculation, but that you'd infer divorce from this is a logical leap I can't follow. – John Smith Optional Feb 27 '14 at 13:08

I think the two rings is a visual metaphor that symbolizes the union of two people through marriage, i.e, total commitment as in mentally and physically. The one ring symbolizes the detachment of one of the two sides from the union/marriage, i.e, Lucy Walters' character asserting 'although I am married I am not necessarily exclusively physically linked to my partner any more'. hope this helps.

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You need to diferenciate between a wedding ring and an engagement ring. In the first scene she is wearing both, then only the engagement one. The wedding ring (in Spanish "alianza", which meand union) becomes a symbol exactly of that, been real to that relationship. I think the interesting point of that scene is trying to understand the empty glare of Brandon, not the woman who is obvious trying to suck his balls, with her lips painted and her attitude. Great job, Michael & soundtrack guys.

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After he himself went on a sex-bender while ignoring his sister, we can see he makes a resolve to change himself. The end where the woman flirts with him is an open ending in whether he'll be able to maintain his resolve or succumb to his addiction.

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