I’m behind the 8 Ball with other responsibilities, but I still wanted to give a shout out to Piercing, which is currently out on VOD and available on DVD/Blu March 12.
Logline: A man, Reed (Christopher Abbott) 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 sex worker, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska).
Here are four quick reasons why the film should be on your radar:
1) Star Mia Wasikowska
Pretty much any film starring Wasikowska is worth checking out, but her genre fare is particularly worthy (Stoker is a personal favourite and Rogue is a great little creature feature/aquatic horror film). Here she’s playing Jackie, a call girl who is far more dangerous and damaged than she looks. Plus: while it’s notoriously difficult to rock a bob cut, Wasikowska is surprisingly adept at pulling it off!
Co-star Abbott is fine, though his character Reed is deliberately understated and more reserved, especially in comparison to Jackie, who is allowed to embody a full range of emotions. Still, the pair make for a believable match and neither are hard on the eyes.
2) The Writer & Director
Piercing is based on a novel by Ryû Murakami, the novelist who wrote Audition – which should get you hyped for Piercing in a BIG way. The film is adapted by Nicolas Pesce, the man behind the gruesome festival fave The Eyes of My Mother which shocked audiences with its provocative B/W exploration of taboo subjects.
3) The Visual Aesthetic
Pesce, along with production designer Alan Lampert, creates a gorgeous tactile world of rich, evocative colours and anonymous spaces (generic hotel rooms, abandoned hallways, uniform city skylines and a large, mostly empty apartment). Whitney Anne Adams’ costumes tie into the mise-en-scene, particularly Jackie’s fluffy fur coat which makes an immediate impression when she arrives at Reed’s cramped hotel room, as does the strategic use of split screens during key sequences to tie the film’s anti-heroes together in different locales.
4) The Violence
Several reviewers have described Piercing as an American film informed by Giallo aesthetics, with makes sense given its propensity to favour art over plot and its tendency to focus on Wasikowska and Abbott’s eyes. When violence does occasionally erupt, however, it is brutal and efficient; Pesce knows how to shoot violence in a visceral fashion which helps make those rare moments even more impactful.
Piercing is ultimately more of a psychological battle of wills between two disturbed partners who may just be perfect foes/accomplices for each other. Patient viewers will find the film an intriguing slow burn, though audiences seeking insight into character pathology or gore hounds looking for ultraviolence will undoubtedly find Piercing too slow paced and scattershot for their liking. Still, strong performances and a keen visual aesthetic make Piercing a solid recommend.