| Release Date: February 1, 2019
6.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 14 Ratings
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6
JLuis_001Apr 23, 2019
It was quite an interesting odd little film. Both Christopher Abbott and Wasikowska work well, although the film fails to be as provocative as it wants to be and how it imagines it to be.

Hardly memorable but considering its length and
It was quite an interesting odd little film. Both Christopher Abbott and Wasikowska work well, although the film fails to be as provocative as it wants to be and how it imagines it to be.

Hardly memorable but considering its length and considering that frankly I wasn't bored, I think it's an interesting option.
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5
Bertaut1Feb 2, 2019
Great style, precious little substance

From Nicolas Pesce, writer and director of The Eyes of My Mother (2016), and based on the 1994 novel by Ryû Murakami, Piercing is a darkly comic psychosexual thriller. Partly a screwball comedy about a
Great style, precious little substance

From Nicolas Pesce, writer and director of The Eyes of My Mother (2016), and based on the 1994 novel by Ryû Murakami, Piercing is a darkly comic psychosexual thriller. Partly a screwball comedy about a man's attempt to murder a prostitute, and his confusion and helplessness when he realises that she is far more disturbed than he is, the film dares the audience to figure out who is in charge at any given moment, and to ponder whether one (or both) of these characters would actually be quite happy to be the other's victim. Purposely made to look like a sleazy seventies exploitation flick, the film's sense of nostalgia drips off the screen, manifest in everything from the music borrowed from giallo films to the art-deco production design to the patently fake urban skyline to the lurid opening credits. However, as in The Eyes of My Mother, Pesce is unable to match his not-inconsiderable aesthetic acumen with any kind of emotionality. With no real sense of psychological verisimilitude or interiority, the two leads are blank canvases, and the film feels more like a sketch than a finished product.

Set in a non-specific city, Reed (Christopher Abbott) decides he is going to kill a prostitute in an attempt to purge himself of the thoughts he's been having of murdering his own baby, rehearsing everything from how long the chloroform will leave her unconscious to how best to carry her to the bathroom to begin dismemberment. However, when the time comes, things go down-hill fast, as his victim, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), isn't entirely sane herself.

Perhaps the film's most salient theme is the issue of sexual consent, and how easily muddled it can become. It's a brave theme to take on in this post #MeToo era, with the film daring to ask whether consent should still be applicable if a person has consented to something harmful to their person, even up to the point of consensual homicide (look at the case of Armin Meiwes murder of Bernd Jürgen Brandes). Amidst the shifting sexual power-play between Reed and Jackie, at least twice, one of them believes they've been granted permission to murder the other.

One of the most obvious aspects of the film is its sense of humour, with many of the laughs coming from how anal Reed is. Once an unpredictable human element is introduced into his scheme, he finds himself unable to think on-the-fly. As his meticulously laid plans go up in smoke, he proves comically inept at handling any kind of interpersonal relationship. However, the fact that most of the comedy lands on his shoulders throws into relief the film's most egregious problem; although a good 90% of the narrative is told from his perspective, there's little to his personality. Granted, a couple of final-act flashbacks fill us in on why he is so obsessed with murder, but his character simply isn't capable of filling out a film.

The problem for me is that nothing lingers - and when some of the imagery is this extreme, it should definitely linger. I don't really think there's any depravity that Reed and Jackie could have inflicted on one another that would have provoked an emotional response, because I didn't know them, and therefore was unable to care about them.

Aesthetically, however, there's a great deal to praise here, with the sound design particularly inventive. During Reed's rehearsal of the murder, he goes through the entire act, from the initial drugging to the dismemberment. On screen, we see him pantomime the actions, but on the soundtrack, we hear the disturbing foley of everything - so as he's miming sawing, we hear a saw cut through flesh and bone. It's a brilliant way to place us firmly within his subjective experience. On a similar note, the music is absolutely top notch. Eschewing an original score, Pesce instead uses pre-existing tracks primarily from giallo classics.

Visually, the exteriors (of which there are very few) are obviously miniatures, with very little effort to make them look photorealistic. This sets an otherworldly tone right, as if the film is taking place in a slightly alternate reality, as the real and the fake mix together in Reed's confused mind. Interiors are blank, as if they are show-houses, not actually inhabited by a flesh and blood person - one shot, for example, shows a drink's cabinet where the bottles have no brands, just the name of the alcohol. Again, this sets the film's reality apart, as if everything is happening just outside our own world, or our own conception of the world.

Ultimately, however, Piercing is more interested in aesthetics than exploring psychology. The increasingly extreme goings-on are never anything more than a jokey end unto themselves. With Pesce focused on comedy beats, there are certainly a few laughs, but there's precious little substance.
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6
qbaseMar 12, 2019
Βασισμένος στη νουβέλα του Ryū Murakami, ο Pesce μας συστήνει τον Reed ένας φυσιολογικό οικογενειάρχη που ετοιμάζει τις βαλίτσες του για ένα επαγγελματικό ταξίδι. Μόνο ο Reed δεν είναι καθόλου φυσιολογικός αλλά ένας ψυχοπαθής δολοφόνος, οΒασισμένος στη νουβέλα του Ryū Murakami, ο Pesce μας συστήνει τον Reed ένας φυσιολογικό οικογενειάρχη που ετοιμάζει τις βαλίτσες του για ένα επαγγελματικό ταξίδι. Μόνο ο Reed δεν είναι καθόλου φυσιολογικός αλλά ένας ψυχοπαθής δολοφόνος, ο οποίος για να συνεχίσει να ζει την καθωσπρέπει ζωή, κάθε τόσο φροντίζει να το... ρίχνει έξω. Πηγαίνει σε ένα ξενοδοχείο, καλεί ένα call-girl και... το δολοφονεί με εξαιρετικά οργανωμένες κινήσεις. Για κακή του τύχη, αυτή τη φορά έρχεται η Jackie και τα σχέδια του πάνε περίπατο... Expand
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