Michael Fassbender stars in this heavy drama about sex addiction. For him sex isn't pleasurable. It's purely an addiction that he feeds endlessly in every conceivable way. And he juggles this insatiable need with his corporate job in Manhattan, his relationship with his boss and coworkers, and his equally troubled sister, played by Carey Mulligan, who shows up one day unexpectedly.
Fassbender is having one hell of a breakout year with other leading roles in 'X-Men: First Class', 'A Dangerous Method' and 'Jane Eyre'. He's proven himself a chameleon, playing very different roles and clearly willing to bare it all (quite literally here) and put himself out there completely. His performance here and in 'A Dangerous Method' just might win him an Oscar nomination this year.
And Mulligan is clearly working overtime to change her girl-next-door image from her breakout films from 2009, 'An Education' and 'The Greatest', to her newly blond alter ego in 'Drive' and in this film. I respect her trying to stretch, particularly since these latest two roles seem out of character for the real Carey Mulligan, but I personally think she belongs in roles closer to her true persona, and I hope she heads back in that direction.
So the big question I wrestle with: Is this film art or pornography? I think it walks the line. It's a hard movie to watch, but it certainly sparks a lot of thought and conversation, and that's a great thing. So I think it's a success and art film lovers (and porn lovers) should definitely see it. It just isn't for everyone. In fact it's rated NC-17, and justifiably so.