This is Michael Fassbender’s second collaboration with Director Steve McQueen, Hunger being the earlier one. It’s a very bleak film about sex-addiction and the ruin and heartache it can bring to people’s lives. Brandon has a succesful career, but he’s got one secret: his addiction to sex. He can’t have a normal relationship as we see him in an abortive dalliance with a co-worker. It does not go well. He’s got to pay for it. He’s got to get it in dive bars or sex clubs. He gets no pleasure as he “pleasures” himself. There is no joy in these acts. One can only conclude that this is all a form of self-flagellation. Riding on the subway, he sees a woman with an enigmatic smile on her face. It appears that she has secret pleasures, rather than hidden demons. It’s a pointed contrast that Brandon surely notices, even if he may not be able to put a name to it.
One day his sister Sissy (Carey Mulligan) shows up which upsets Brandon terribly. His balance is thrown off. His sister has issues of her own surely, but at least she’s trying to reach out to her brother. Sadly, she’ll have none of it. There is really no back story to their family history, but the assumption is that it was not a happy one. One can only speculate on the relationship between brother and sister.
Sissy is a musician and the films has one extended scene of Sissy singing a very slowed down rendition of “New York, New York”. It’ll tear your heart out and is in many ways unbearable to hear and watch, surprisinglt bringing her brother to tears.