If anyone doubted sex and intimacy were mutually exclusive, "Shame" is proof-positive they can be light years apart.
Director Steve McQueen, who comes to filmmaking with an artist's resume and is a major talent to watch, has made a raw, undiluted (and NC-17) exploration of a sex addict's self-inflected implosion in New York City.
Michael Fassbender rivetingly plays Brandon, a successful executive whose entire life outside of work (and sometimes at work, alone) is focused on sexual highs, and from a variety of sources, from internet porn to random subway encounters. That focus is knocked askew by the arrival of his needy sister (Carey Mulligan), who, despite his disinterest, finds her back in his life.
He goes ballistic when his predatory hunts go unfulfilled or interrupted, while his connections are becoming increasingly anonymous, washing away what's left of his humanity.
Fassbender and Mulligan are great playing Americans - he's Irish and she's British - and at times hint at something sinister and unspeakable in their past relationship. In what could be a terse summary of this bleak, dark movie, she asks at one point, "What happened to us?"