English teacher Franny Avery becomes obsessed with the detective investigating a brutal murder outside her apartment. Together they embark on a passionate, sexual relationship that begins to dominate her thoughts. Meanwhile, the murderer continues on his killing spree.
There's a time in every actress' career when, if she wants to be taken seriously, she has to get her kit off. Look what it did for Nicole Kidman: she bared all on stage in The Blue Room and hasn't looked back. Ironic, then, that Meg Ryan's breakthrough naked role here was originally intended for Kidman.
Kidman retains a producer credit, but for the first scenes, you'd swear she was on screen - Ryan's transformation is distinctly Nic-like. But that would be doing a disservice to Ryan. She makes a heroine whose howling stupidity could make her unsympathetic, seem quite the opposite. Instead you want to follow her to the darkest places, and Campion is prepared to take you there. Romantic images are subverted, the sex scenes are graphic and desperate. It's less grim than Susanna Moore's original novella, but the foreshadowing that all is not right is in everything, from the music to the dialogue.
Technically brilliant, and Ryan is utterly compelling. But ultimately it's too voyeuristic and cold to recommend without reservations.