Gary Walkow’s 1996 adaptation of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s 1864 novella may be more interesting if you’re unfamiliar with the source. What’s fascinating about the movie—and what makes it debilitating to watch—comes from the thwarted sense of expectation it continually imposes. Like Dostoyevsky’s diarist, the nameless main character (Henry Czerny) is the narrator of a document about himself—here a videotape he’s making. He’s also the main player in interspersed dramatic scenes that function as flashbacks to the experiences that drove him to make his confession. Grainy shots of Czerny talking into a camera set up in his small room alternate with glossy footage of him interacting with several men who dislike him. Speaking to his camera, he rationalizes his behavior toward these men, narcissistically alternating between claiming responsibility for their reactions and fantasizing about how he might have behaved differently. Walkow’s ability to evoke the character’s neurotic or psychotic mind-set falters only occasionally: at one point Czerny throws wine in another character’s face, and the scene is immediately replayed without this audacious move, turning the rest of the flashback into objective reality by default and eliminating any meaningful ambiguity. But Czerny’s devastatingly reflexive monologues are so intense they’re threatening, as are the elegantly scripted scenes between him and Sheryl Lee, who gives a deceptively facile performance as a prostitute Czerny persuades to leave that occupation so she can experience another kind of suffering with him.