A female ex-con named Corky has an affair with her neighbor Violet, whose boyfriend Caesar launders money for the mob. The two women concoct a plot to steal the cash Caeser's stashed and blame it on him.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

I have wanted to see this well-received indie thriller since before I even knew who the Wachowski brothers were, but I'm kind of glad I didn't see it until I was already familiar with the Matrix trilogy, because the similarities are obvious. Partly that's in the superficial details (Bill Pope's wild camera angles, Don Davis's overbearing musical score), but it's also in the spirit of the film: Like "Revolutions" and the original "Matrix," it starts out going in one direction with a particular fascination, then switches gears and becomes something else entirely, and asks the audience to sustain heavy tension for a prolonged period. If the film has a weakness, it's the length: Five fewer minutes of double-crossing and eye-shifting would have improved the whole, since the film takes place in two apartments among a tiny cast and after a while it feels like it's going in circles.

Mostly I'm struck by the dialogue and how sharp it is; I am still amazed that the same Wachowskis who wrote the sparkling dialogue in this film and the original "Matrix" also authored the boring, monologue-heavy "Reloaded" and "Revolutions." They have real talent for crafting suspense and creative cinematography, and they know how to make the most of their actors (the three leads here are phenomenal), so if they can go back to writing fresh scripts again, they should have a long career in this business. I recommend this to anyone curious about the directors' other work, or fans of clever erotic thrillers in general. It is as good as its reputation.

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