In the underbelly of lower Manhattan, Frannie Avery (Meg Ryan),a reserved English professor, becomes obsessed after seeing more than she should of an impassioned couple. After the young woman turns up dead, Frannie is questioned by a homicide detective (Mark Ruffalo) who draws her into a liberating but disturbing erotic encounter. As the body count rises, familiar suspects begin to emerge.

To me it is absolutely the best film that Jane Campion has ever made.

Frannie, Meg Ryan, is a teacher of creative writing and student of contemporary New York vernacular. She has only one close connection, her half-sister Paulina, Jennifer Jason Leigh. When she visits a bar with one of her students, Cornelius, Sharrief Pugh, she witnesses a man being fellated by a red-haired woman. The woman is later found dead, 'disarticulated' as the detective investigating the case describes it. He's Malloy, Mark Ruffalo, who bears the same tattoo on his arm as the man in the bar. Despite her suspicions Frannie becomes intrigued by Malloy, has sex with him, maybe even starts to fall in love with him. As the series of grisly murders continues and Frannie herself is attacked her relationship with Malloy intensifies.

I cannot believe some of the negative critical reaction to this film. To me it is absolutely the best film that Jane Campion has ever made. It tracks that pull to the dark side in a woman who wants to shut herself off from embracing intimacy. It explores that flaunting of danger for the sake of connection, both sexual and emotional. It trawls through family history and the evolution of this woman. But beyond that it is a gripping and emotionally devastating thriller set in a dark and fateful New York, beautifully captured by the cinematography of that talented Australian, Dion Beebe. There are the Campion trademarks, seen in the visualising of Frannie's dreams and nightmares, but what I love about it is the dangerous truth it explores without compromise. It has a different ending from the book, I must warn people who've read it, but I think you'll be grateful.