Karen Moncrieff's dark, showily acted ensemble piece begins where torture-porn flicks typically climax and move on: with a girl's mutilated body. Here, the discovery splits the film into five stories of women somehow linked by the murder -- four afters and a before, each providing its own partially obscured angle on the crime. Moncrieff, who made a promising debut in 2002 with Blue Car, doesn't force some overlay of cosmic linkage on the stories: The plot strands that connect the five women are direct and plausible. Most often, images and details rhyme between the stories in mysterious ways -- the wife's pet rabbit and the dead girl's stuffed bunny, for example, or the burning of news clippings by two characters for gravely different reasons. The top-notch cast includes Toni Collette, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Kerry Washington, Rose Byrne, and Brittany Murphy; the truncated stories force the actors to start at a high pitch and keep going. But they -- and the director -- work wonders at low volume.
Director: Karen Moncrieff
Writer: Karen Moncrieff
Producer: Tom Rosenberg, Henry Winterstern, Gary Lucchesi, Eric Karten, Richard Wright and Kevin Turen
Cast: Toni Collette, Rose Byrne, Mary Beth Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden, Brittany Murphy, Kerry Washington, Piper Laurie, Giovanni Ribisi, James Franco and Mary Steenburgen