Tormented by a mysterious urge, Reed stoops over his child at night, ready to kill the baby with an ice pick, a weapon which has had a bad name since Basic Instinct. Then a mysterious voice tells him how he can rid himself of this dangerous compulsion. He must stab someone else to death. He prepares everything meticulously. He tells his wife he is going on a business trip. In his suitcase, bondage attributes and the ice pick. In the hotel, he phones a call girl. While he waits for her to arrive, obviously nervous, he mimes the murder he’s about to commit.
Nicolas Pesce based this alternately detached and expressive psychothriller – with surrealist horror and a dash of comedy – on the novel by Japanese cult writer Murakami Ryū, who also provided the material for Miike Takashi’s notorious film, Audition. It can’t be a surprise that the encounter between Reed (Christopher Abbott) and the prostitute Jackie (Mia Wasikowska), who has her own neuroses, takes an unexpected turn. Blood flows, but not the way the confused Reed had thought. Can she see through him? Maybe Jackie is living out her own SM fantasy. This evokes flashbacks and horror visions for Reed in which his mother also plays a role. Even Freud makes an entrance in this unpredictable, sexually charged duel that could turn into a fatal contest or a liberating catharsis. Is this what takes place behind those anonymous windows in the stylised cityscape forming the backdrop?