You wonder why filmmakers make the choices they do. Here is a filmmaker who specialises in acute realism, expansive vision and narrative clarity. He’s chosen a project designed to expand his palette, one that depends on claustrophobic madness and resulting visions. These visions are what we need for the untrusted narration.
I don’t know the book, but he is given three devices for narrative slippage; the woman’s unhinged mind, the multiple deceptions from across the road, and a boarder who could be important. But none of it works, as many other commenters have remarked.
That leaves us thinking less of the tragedy in the film, and more of the tragedy of the film. When I try something outside my capability, I want to exhaust myself and master it or fail interestingly. Joe fails in an ordinary film school way.
Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.