Ponderously morbid in its visual execution, director Johan Renck takes an already problematic story about Nancy (Maria Bello), a suicidal housewife, and grinds all narrative dramatic lifeblood into a fine gray dust. Renck's production crew do no favors with perpetually florescent-lit scenes, and drab costumes, that make the film look like a zombie board meeting in Iceland. It's hard to imagine a more colorless film. Nancy's troubled marriage to Albert Stockwell (Rufus Sewell), a passionless businessman who thinks only of his golf game, becomes the excuse for her to go web surfing for a dom to exact a severe amount of satisfaction from her already scared body--she's a cutter--before "wiping her slate clean." A time-folding narrative device sets up tension between Albert and Louis Farley (Jason Patric)--the man Nancy chooses for the uncompromising task of taking her life--as they hash out the problems of Albert's marriage at his empty home like something out of William Mastrosimone's "Extremities." The rest of the film is spent in sessions with Nancy and her therapist (Amy Brenneman), and in various stages of cruel S&M arousal between Nancy and Louis as she edges him toward her final goal in spite of his growing love for her. Maria Bello's fearless performance is the stuff of legend, but it doesn't compensate for a poorly thought-out script delivered with a production style so dry that it's surprising the celluloid doesn't crack while you're watching it.
Not Rated. 102 mins. (C-) (Two Stars)
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