As with his 2003 debut, Young Adam, David Mackenzie's tale of hothouse
passions among the pathologically deranged demonstrates that the director can
work magic with actors, notably Richardson as the sexually frustrated wife of an
English asylum's new administrator. But what this slack adaptation of Patrick
McGrath's novel strives to achieve—metaphor for female imprisonment? torrid
romance?—is anyone's guess. Mackenzie's talent is undeniable, but if
Asylum is any indication, it might be a while before his ability to craft
a narrative catches up with his facility for mildewy atmospherics.