Piercing is an extremely black comedy. Reed (Christopher Abbott) is a married man with an urge to stab his baby. He decides to take this out on a prostitute, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) instead. Jackie, however, has her own complexities, and the games begin.

Director Nicolas Pesce slowly reveals his characters’ inner lives through conversation, furtive deeds, fantasy sequences and a truly vivid nightmare. This is not for the faint of heart, with plenty of blood, violence, graphic bodily trauma and truly nauseating sound design.

The production design is quite original. The film takes place in a deliberately artificial world which makes the actions of its characters jump out of the screen. Row upon row of obviously miniature apartment complexes fill the sky, and it’s hard to say exactly what decade it’s all set in due to the use of vintage props (although it seems to be the 1980s). Interiors are moodily lit and richly coloured.

Piercing is a neat little exercise in character dynamics and power relationships. It’s frequently very funny and, in its own utterly demented way, works satisfyingly as a sort of sadomasochistic meet cute.

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