Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
SEARCH RESULTS FOR
The SWITCH team laughed and cried their way through the best drama films on streaming services - click here for our list!x
review, Piercing, Piercing, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Christopher Abbott, Mia Wasikowska, Laia Costa, Maria Dizzia, Wendell Pierce, Marin Ireland, Dakota Lustick, Nicolas Pesce film rating

PIERCING

★★★

A PENETRATING PITCH BLACK COMEDY

THEATRICAL REVIEW
LATEST REVIEWS
By Jake Watt
13th January 2019

On paper, a film adaptation of a novel by cult Japanese writer Ryû Murakami, known for his gruesome shockers like ‘Into the Miso Soup’ and ‘Coin Locker Babies’, by Nicolas Pesce, the director of the haunting ‘The Eyes of My Mother’, sounds like a gruelling prospect.

Imagine my surprise when, at Monster Fest Presents’ screening at Dendy Newtown (featuring a Q&A from actress Mia Wasikowska), it dawned on me that ‘Piercing’ wasn’t just stylish, quirky and grisly... it was also quite funny.

‘Piercing’ follows Reed (Christopher Abbott, ‘It Comes At Night’, ‘First Man’), a husband and father who is tormented by traumatic events in his past and his very current compulsion to stab his new baby with an ice pick. Seeking to turn his murderous impulses elsewhere, he decides to kill a call girl, packs his ether and bondage ropes, and tells his wife that he is going on a business trip.

Reed has a detailed plan for murdering the stranger he summons to his hotel room. He writes in a little notebook (which also contains a mysterious photograph) in tidy block letters. He also mimes out the encounter, hacksawing away at the air over a bathtub in a moment of coal black physical comedy.

'PIERCING' TRAILER

But the prostitute, Jackie (Mia Wasikowska, ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’, ‘Crimson Peak’), has a few issues of her own and proves to be more than a match for Reed’s own messed-up urges.

Following Reed through a series of cramped interior locations (rooms, hallways, the back of a cab), we are never quite sure what is going on. Hallucinations of talking babies and monstrous beetles stand alongside reality in Reed’s warped mind. Jackie’s own motivations are never made clear, either.

This is coupled with a deliberately dislocated (but beautifully filmed) visual aesthetic and setting, with the novel’s Tokyo replaced by an unknown city of skyscrapers containing archaic technology. Reed’s hotel room is retro kitsch, all dark leather and burnished wooden panels; Jackie’s apartment features black silk sheets, a shiny monochrome kitchen and an ancient record player. People contact each other using phone booths in the street rather than smart phones.

The film's sound design features a sprinkling of sleazy Italian jazz written by composer Piero Piccioni and music themes taken from seventies and eighties gialli. A cameo appearance from Goblin’s score for Dargio Argento‘s ‘Profondo Rosso’ occurs when Pesce employs a split screen device as he brings his two main characters together.

It’s a satire of modern dating, as two emotional baggage-laden individuals circle around each other, each miscommunicating their desires and intentions. It’s also an exploration of individual trauma and how an inability to process it can lead to isolation and loneliness.

Far from being lowbrow torture porn, ‘Piercing’ has more similarity to Mary Harron’s ‘American Psycho’ and Marjane Satrapi’s underrated ‘The Voices’. It’s a satire of modern dating, as two emotional baggage-laden individuals circle around each other, each miscommunicating their desires and intentions. It’s also an exploration of individual trauma and how an inability to process it can lead to isolation and loneliness.

Ryū Murakami’s stories have been filmed before, most notably by director Takashi Miike (‘Blade Of The Immortal’) with the all-time horror classic, ‘Audition’. While ‘Piercing’ is never as disturbing and gory as ‘Audition’, it does share its use of surreal flashbacks melding with the present day as well as a few themes, with Reed so busy projecting his fantasies onto Jackie that’s he’s completely taken off-guard when she turns out to have her own personality and drives.

Mia Wasikowska has played unhinged, murderous characters before in Chan-wook Park’s ‘Stoker’, Jim Jarnusch’s ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’, and David Cronenberg’s ‘Maps to the Stars’. It’s to her credit as an actor that she continues to find new wrinkles in these roles. Her take on the self-harming Jackie is by turns kittenish, lonely, amusing and menacing, exploring a sadomasochistic woman’s radical expression of her sexuality.

When the punchline ending arrived, it was so abrupt that the applause from the audience at my screening was tentative and disbelieving. Despite running at only 81 minutes, ‘Piercing’ is a compact two-hander that offers a stylishly presented, off-kilter treat for fans of black comedies.

FAST FACTS
RELEASE DATE: 10/01/2019
RUN TIME: 1h 21m
CAST: Christopher Abbott
Mia Wasikowska
Laia Costa
Maria Dizzia
Wendell Pierce
Marin Ireland
Dakota Lustick
DIRECTOR: Nicolas Pesce
WRITER: Nicholas Pesce
PRODUCER: Antonio Campos
PiercingMovie
PiercingMovie
PiercingMovie
TOP-RATED REVIEWS
Spies in Disguise - An awesome animated spy film for the whole family
TRENDINGWIN SPIES IN DISGUISEAn awesome animated spy film for the whole family
The Sophia Loren Collection: Volume One - See the screen legend like never before
TRENDINGWIN THE SOPHIA LOREN COLLECTION: VOLUME ONESee the screen legend like never before
Locusts - A low-key, low-down thriller
TRENDINGLOCUSTSA low-key, low-down thriller
Burning Kiss - Baroque, eye-catching Australian neo-noir
TRENDINGBURNING KISSBaroque, eye-catching Australian neo-noir
28 Days Later - ...15 years later
TRENDING28 DAYS LATER...15 years later
Gallipoli - A powerful and important film remembered
TRENDINGGALLIPOLIA powerful and important film remembered
Lockdown and Catch Up - The best action films streaming right now
TRENDINGLOCKDOWN AND CATCH UPThe best action films streaming right now
Portrait of a Lady on Fire - A perfect film on the language of desire
TRENDINGPORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIREA perfect film on the language of desire
Back of the Net - Misses the net, and then some
TRENDINGBACK OF THE NETMisses the net, and then some
Five Feet Apart - Breathing borrowed air and clichés
TRENDINGFIVE FEET APARTBreathing borrowed air and clichés
Sleeping Beauty - A history of Disney's masterpiece on its 60th anniversary
TRENDINGSLEEPING BEAUTYA history of Disney's masterpiece on its 60th anniversary
Richard Jewell - Man versus media
TRENDINGRICHARD JEWELLMan versus media
Benjamin - Gay dramedy tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways
TRENDINGBENJAMINGay dramedy tugs at the heartstrings in all the right ways
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
TRENDINGTHE VIOLIN PLAYERSex and strings
River's Edge - The kids aren't alright
TRENDINGRIVER'S EDGEThe kids aren't alright
Birds of Prey - I'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
TRENDINGBIRDS OF PREYI'm here to report a terrible crime: DC has saved cinema
Jumanji: The Next Level - Adventure sequel is serious family fun
TRENDINGJUMANJI: THE NEXT LEVELAdventure sequel is serious family fun
Inseparable Bros - A heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
TRENDINGINSEPARABLE BROSA heartwarming tale about disability and the power of friendship
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker - Making sense of the end of the 'Star Wars' saga
TRENDINGSTAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKERMaking sense of the end of the 'Star Wars' saga
Lockdown and Catch Up - The best family films streaming right now
TRENDINGLOCKDOWN AND CATCH UPThe best family films streaming right now
© 2011 - 2020 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us