Reed (Christopher Abbott) has a wife (Laia Costa), a baby and a pretty good life. Unable to shake the urge to kill, though, one night, he has to leave them: he wants to hire an escort and plans to kill her. He finds Jackie (Mia Wasikowska) who is taken in by his good looks and charm, so his plan is off to a good start. But things do take a different turn than he anticipated.
Piercing is a strange film. It’s fucked up, but it’s also very romantic in a way. Whatever it is, I was completely engrossed in it.
At its heart and despite all appearances, Piercing is a romance about two very special people finding each other. Not that it’s a healthy romance or a classic meetcute that you’d inspire to in real life (I think), but still: it’s romance. That this isn’t clear from the get-go, or at least it wasn’t to me, meant that the film does take some interesting and unexpected turns. It certainly kept me on my toes and very much engrossed.
I did wonder if the film tried to be anything more than an unusual romance. Not that being a romance wasn’t enough, but when you approach something in such an unusual way, often there is a point that you want to make that goes beyond the usual tropes. In this case, I didn’t see anything other than “love comes in many strange ways and forms” but I didn’t need any more than that anyway.
Unsurprisingly, Mia Wasikowska was brilliant as Jackie. It is mostly due to her efforts that the film is as fascinating and remains believable despite the outrageous set-up. Christopher Abbott was good, too, but as control slips from Reed and he becomes ever more bewildered by how things go (much like the audience), his role is a little less shiny than Jackie.
The soundtrack and the sets were great, rounding things off nicely and leaving me with only two minor complaints: I wondered what happened with Reed’s family and I generally wanted to know what happened next – the ending just came to early. But that in itself is a good thing, so even my complaints are not really complaints. Instead I left the film feeling I had seen something literally extra-ordinary.