Well, this was unusual. That’s in a good way. Michael Fassbender’s Brandon is a sex addict. We see him on a variety of one-night stands, hiring prostitutes and using (a vast collection of) pornography. Much of this is reasonably graphic; there is a great deal of nudity and fairly convincing and extended sex scenes.
And yet this is neither arousing or embarrassing. Perhaps this is because we see all this portrayed as problematic – it is part of Brandon’s addiction. And, perhaps, the slow and grave musical score also lends these scenes poignancy. Despite many “pretty people” getting their kit off, including the stars, this doesn’t feel exploitative or shabby.
Brandon appears to be doing ok at the start of the film. He is successful at work in a high-powered business firm and seems to effortlessly pick up girls, contrasting with his brash and coarse (married) boss, who is upstaged by just an intense stare from Brandon – it probably helps to look like Fassbender! While not appearing sinister, there is something very predatory about Brandon on the pull.
When Brandon’s sister, Sissy, an aspiring torch singer with serious issues herself, arrives and plants herself in his flat, his life begins to unravel. The seeds of this were there before her arrival and the process is gradual bit inevitable, leading to… Well, I can’t really say, can I?
The film looks wonderful – there is an extended shot of Brandon running through the New York streets at night that is simply amazing but much of the direction and camerawork is simple (or looks so) and unshowy, letting Fassbender and Mulligan’s acting prowess shine. A beautiful, haunting film to officially close the Leeds Film Festival.