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Steve McQueen, 2011

Michael Fassbender is Brandon, a man with a well paid job that affords him a very nice New York City apartment. He’s a man who can pull any woman he likes just by looking at them. It sounds like his life is great, doesn’t it? Apparently not…

When his sister moves in having now where else to stay his life suddenly turns to turmoil. I am not exactly sure why. One of his work colleagues, who is married yet goes out with Brandon as they attempt to pick up girls, ends up sleeping with his sister which infuriates him. I am not exactly sure why he gets so angry, and it seemed silly to let his friend get so close to him in the first place. It all seems strange since the moment Carey Mulligan enters the film, in fact. None of it felt real to me, each bizarre scene that occurs seems to do so simply for us to see Michael Fassbender showing an emotional reaction of some sort, whether is be him being upset, angry, or more often than not: both.

This event leads Brandon into complete breakdown, he attempts to completely change his lifestyle, and go from sex to a real relationship. His character seems completely crazy and without reason a lot of the time. Okay, it might be a strong performance in terms of convoying emotion and in terms of what he gives physically, but there is absolutely no reason to care for his character. His relationship with his sister feels extremely incestuous and silly; he seems to get extremely angry over nothing when it comes to her.

Steve McQueen seems to know all the artistic tricks in the book. Whether it is an extended long take of Brandon purposely running from right to left of the screen (to convoy negativity) to classic music, Brandon walking around full frontal, or Carey Mulligan singing for what felt like half the film, every scene seems so purposefully constructed and pretentious, without reason other than to say “look at me and my great artistic film!”.

By the end of the film nothing has really been achieved, we know nothing that we did not know about these characters at the start of the film and their ‘issues’ which are expanded way beyond any sort of reality that you just can not take the film seriously. The film tackles nothing new, and takes simple ideas and stretches them beyond belief. It is ninety minutes of Michael Fassbender showing us he can pull of a few extreme emotions, that is about it.