If April’s Craigslist murder didn’t deter you from online dating, consider this dreary study of a suicidal, sadomasochistic woman: Nancy (Bello) leaves her neglectful husband (Sewell) for an Internet hookup (Patric) who’s into extreme sex with mousetraps and cigarettes. Narrated in a disorienting, nonlinear fashion, the story becomes a bizarre love triangle when Patric’s interloper shows up at the husband’s door and submits himself to as much beating and torture as he bestowed on the disappeared wife, while keeping her whereabouts a secret.
The three leads bravely inhabit their perversions, especially Patric, who emerges as the film’s unlikely moral center even as he shepherds Bello to self-destruction. But for all the bad behavior on display, the emotional stakes remain hazily defined. Part of the problem lies in the script’s proclivity for histrionics, such as dialogue in a Chinese restaurant that finishes with “Take your moo goo gai pan and get the fuck out of my life.” First-time feature director Johan Renck situates his characters in a prevailing mood of suburban numbness; a world where home interiors are papered in cubicle gray, and drab lighting recalls visits to Costco. But the actors rarely have a moment that isn’t jostled by unstable handheld shots, giving every scene the same clipped, ungrounded rhythm. Maybe it’s supposed to mimic our own online click sessions—as if we need more of that in our lives.