Michael Fassbender (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Carey Mulligan (Drive)
James Badge Dale (Iron Man 3)
Nicole Beharie (Sleepy Hollow)
Amy Hargreaves (Michael Clayton)
Hannah Ware (Hitman: Agent 47)
Brandon Sullivan is an Irish-American New York City executive and long-term bachelor. He is a sex addict who frequently has sex with prostitutes and masturbates several times daily, sometimes viewing pornography on his work computers. One day Brandon makes eye contact with a woman wearing an engagement ring on the subway during his morning commute. She initially reciprocates, but becomes uncomfortable. When they exit, she disappears into the crowd. He masturbates in the bathroom afterwards at work. Brandon and his married boss, David, hit on women at a club; later, Brandon has sex on a quiet street with Elizabeth, the woman David was pursuing.Brandon has been ignoring calls from his sister, Sissy, a lounge singer. He arrives at his apartment startled to find her in his shower with jazz music playing, thinking it may have been a burglar. Sissy has a few gigs in the city and asks to stay; he later hears her pleading with her lover on the telephone not to reject her. After Brandon’s company computer system is infected with a computer virus, they find his hard drive was full of pornography. David assumes Brandon’s intern is responsible.Brandon rebukes Sissy for balancing precariously on the subway platform edge. Later, he and David watch her perform “New York, New York” in a bar, which makes Brandon emotional. David flirts with her and notices the scars of self-inflicted wounds on her arms. Sissy has sex with David in her brother’s bedroom while Brandon, disgusted, goes running. Later that night, Sissy attempts to get in bed with Brandon; he orders her out of the room.Brandon goes on a date with co-worker Marianne, who is recently separated and has a positive attitude toward commitment, while Brandon dislikes the idea of marriage and admits that his relationships have never lasted longer than four months. After dinner they talk about who they would be in a past life. When they reach the subway station, they go home separately. That night, Sissy discovers Brandon masturbating in his bathroom. He attacks her and accuses her of spying on him. She finds his laptop open on a pornographic webcam site. Brandon slams the laptop shut and a disturbed Sissy leaves. Brandon disposes of his pornography, sex toys, and laptop. At work, he kisses Marianne and the two get a hotel room, but Brandon cannot maintain an erection. Immediately after Marianne leaves, Brandon is seen having aggressive sex with a prostitute against the window of the same hotel room.Brandon tells Sissy that David has a family, and insists that she leave. She says that, as family, they are supposed to help each other, but Brandon accuses her of being irresponsible and a burden. Brandon goes to a bar and comes on to a woman, describing in detail what he’d do to her sexually. She is close to succumbing when her boyfriend intercedes. Brandon laughs in his face and tells him what he was saying. After he leaves the club unsatisfied, the boyfriend follows him out and brutally beats Brandon. When he is physically barred from entering another club, he goes to a gay bar across the street and is fellated by a man. After leaving, he listens to a voicemail message from Sissy crying as she tells him they aren’t bad people, but come from a bad place. Nearing the point of withdrawal, Brandon has a threesome with two prostitutes. While Brandon is riding the subway home, the passengers are asked to leave the train due to a police emergency (implied to be a suicide under the train). He frantically calls Sissy, but she does not answer. He runs home to find Sissy sitting on the bathroom floor covered in blood, having slashed both wrists. He attempts to stop the bleeding while calling on his cellphone for help. She survives and he comforts her in the hospital. After leaving, he walks until he collapses, sobbing in the rain.Some time later, Brandon is riding the subway. While looking around, he notices the same woman from the beginning of the film, still wearing the engagement ring. This time, the woman initiates flirting, but Brandon is hesitant. She stands, ready to exit the train at an approaching station. As the train slows, Brandon does not take his eyes off the woman, but does not stand up either.This was not an easy film to watch and even less easy to reflect on. However, I thought it was a great film. Original and brave. The acting was totally convincing and the theme important and challenging. The repeated reminders of the hypocrisy of our society regarding sex and violence were clever and uncomfortable. I was very disappointed, but not surprised, that this film received no recognition at the awards ceremony. Normally, “sex, sells” is written on the heart of all promoters. But not in this case, as it is not at all titillating. A genuinely adult film (not the usual meaning). Fine performances from Michael Fassbinder and Carry Mulligan.