A man kisses his wife and baby goodbye and seemingly heads away on business, with a plan to check into a hotel, call an escort service, and kill an unsuspecting prostitute.

A man stands over his newborn baby with a look of revulsion as his wife sits nearby, before he heads off to a motel with a plan to kill an unsuspecting prostitute. This is the basic premise of ‘Piercing’, a stylish psychosexual thriller adapted from the novel of the same name by Ryu Murakami. The film switches location from Tokyo to the United States, and stars Christopher Abbott as Reed, the central character who transposes his macabre thoughts towards his own child on to a prostitute, played by Mia Wasikowska. This is a weird, sick little film, but there are moments of dark humour laced throughout and I did enjoy aspects of it.

The film is the second film directed by Nicolas Pesce, who previously helmed ‘The Eyes of My Mother’, and it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival last year. It has the feel of a new filmmaker experimenting with his craft and there’s a kind of gonzo approach that can be quite arresting, especially in the early part of the film as techniques such as split screens go alongside the cool opening credits to introduce us to the film’s visual style. In terms of the narrative, it toes the line between horror and dark comedy remarkably well as we watch Reed (Abbott) meticulously prepare his plan, only for the arrival of the prostitute he ordered, Jackie (Wasikowska), to cause those plans to go awry. I was invested in the film up to a point, but the final act became too weird and lost me, with each touch of surrealism and each element of sick and twisted imagery distancing me further and further from caring about the fate of the characters.

Piercing’ is a stylish piece of work from Nicolas Pesce, but even at an 80 minute runtime it felt like it was stretching its initial premise thin and despite good performances from Wasikowska and Abbott, it lost its way towards the end.

Rating: 3/5

Directed By: Nicolas Pesce

Starring: Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa, Maria Dizzia, Marin Ireland and Wendell Pierce


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