Steve McQueen's "Shame" -- the NC-17 film starring Michael Fassbender as a sex addict and Carey Mulligan as his damaged younger sister -- hits theaters today. But don't go expecting to envy Fassbender for his bustling sex life -- "Shame" is a snapshot of two very broken people dealing with their misery in different ways. Once you've seen it, you may feel grateful to McQueen for taking you into their psyches -- but you probably won't want to go back anytime soon.
"Shame" is a part of the vast and varied canon of films that achieve the same effect. These are the movies critics tend to describe as "harrowing," the movies that leave you with the sense that the world is broken, and probably can't be fixed, that people are damaged, often irreparably so, that when you choose to walk out onto the street to live your life, chances are, something terrible will happen, or has already happened -- you just haven't realized it yet.
Some subjects are richer for this kind of filmmaking. It's a good bet that any movie focusing on murder, pedophilia, addiction, prostitution or any similar material is not going to fill your soul with sunshine, though it might just be the cathartic self-flagellation you were looking for.
Read on for our list of movies that you should see at least once -- though you might need a hug afterwards: