Michael Fassbender is with us again, fresh from playing Carl Jung in “A Dangerous Method,” and the imprisoned Irish rebel Bobby Sand in Steve McQueen’s “Hunger.” Here, in McQueen’s “Shame,” Fassbender once again gives us a fierce, throttling performance as Brandon Sullivan, a midtown denizen of the 123rd-floor high-finance world. Brandon is a handsome, chilling piece of work. A man who has arranged his life in neat circles and cubes free of dirt and debris.

His New York apartment is a spotless chamber of metal and glass, breathtaking in its absence of warmth. Here, high above the planet in his man-cave, the secret Brandon enjoys sex of all kinds — video, online-magazine, CD sex. Brandon, we see, is a man circling the drain, drenched in sexual addiction, but calm and cool in the office and after-work bar get-togethers with his friends and his married boss (James Badge Dale) who has his own problems.

We learn from spot one that Brandon is an emotional cripple who cannot get through the day without an ejaculation. Brandon takes masturbation breaks the way others go out for a smoke. Whether at home or work, in the men’s room while dining out, Brandon constantly submits to his addiction as a serial self-abuser, as Father Keating would say.

But these forays are only sexual caffeine shots to get him through the day, so that he can spend his evenings in the sack with this girl or that, or prowling the streets, looking for a nocturnal hook-up. In two of the opening scenes, the first showing Brandon spread out in crumpled French blue sheets, carefully covering his package, and in the next in a subway car, we get to watch Brandon at work.

A lovely woman (Lucy Walters) sits across from him crossing and uncrossing her legs. Like a hawk spotting a rabbit, Brandon locks his eyes on her in a steady cool gaze. She returns his gaze and falls into his orbit. Her slight smile quickly warms to a deep heat. She gets up for her stop and puts one hand on the chrome rail. We see that she is married. Brandon rises and stands next to her, putting his hand just above hers, just barely touching her ringed finger.

Her eyes close and she takes a deep breath. We sense that we’re watching a fairy tale with an urban princess whose primal lust has been asleep, and who now has been kissed by the touch of a forest roaming prince, a dark one to be sure, but a master.

Brandon loses her in the crowd, and feeling shattered and unfulfilled, he returns to his office men’s room and replays the moment with music from his magic flute.

Just as we’re thinking that this is the ballad of Brandon, the movie opens up when he returns home to find a surprise intruder in his shower.

Enter Sissy, (Carey Mulligan in the all together) his baby sister, a damaged piece of goods on her own journey of pain, who explains her arrival as she stands all frontal and fussy before him. Here, we get to see more of Ms. Mulligan than her mother would be happy with.

Sister Sissy is a sometime chanteuse of middling talent who appears, now and then, in a midtown night club. We gather that little sister has been floating around various beds like a cross-country erotic pilgrim. Sissy has decided now to float into town and set up couch time in big brother’s posh pad. His reaction is predictable. It doesn’t take long for their paper-thin rapprochement to shatter. She beds his married boss, messes up his apartment and expresses suicidal thoughts. Then, in a mosaic of exchanged words, there are growing hints that both siblings sprang from a darkly dysfunctional family where their childhood relationship may have been a seedbed for their adult problems.

A lot of “Shame” seems to have been improvised, and will fall on some eyes as existential artistry, much like the work of the late John Cassavettes (“Shadows” and “Faces.”) To a greater number it will appear to be simply big screen porn. A caveat for laced-up sensibilities. The sex scenes are vivid and frequent, played out against ceiling high windows, midnight construction sites, and in a seedy village gay leather bar. Startling for a brief moment, they soon become, in this viewer’s opinion, tedious and boring.

On a lighter note, and there are few here, it will seem to some pundits and wags, that Mr. Fassbender was selected for the role for reasons other than his talent. We’re given several spot-on views of Michael’s physical gifts, as he wanders his apartment au naturel.

Let’s be quick to say that director Steve McQueen (no relation to the late blue-eyed action actor), whose screenplay the movie is based on, is clearly a man of considerable talents. His scenes linger much too long, but are sharply cut and photographed. His actors seem to trust him, as they take the risks asked of them.

Fassbender, who bears an eerie and striking resemblance to small-screen star John Hamm, clearly has an exciting career ahead of him. Carey Mulligan has regained my faith in her future, and James Badge Dale is still looking for his break out part.

Special attention should be paid to Lucy Walters who plays the woman on the subway train.” Without speaking a word, only projecting a powerful sensuality with a glance, she pulled the light from under the feet of star Fassbinder. That’s called film acting.

Lucy has appeared on the new TV show “Smash,” and has several features lined up.

“Shame” is not for the timid and it may be wise to leave mother home with “Smash.”

J.P. Devine is a former stage and screen actor.

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