I came away from this movie wondering why so many people found the plot thin. To me, the subtext presented screamed as much as Lopez' whispered performance.
The brillantly beautiful, and frequently disturbing, visuals are surprising for a Hollywood film, and yet another flicker of hope--such as the one The Matrix provided last year--that H-wood hasn't been intimidated by the government into making nothing but PG-13 teen flicks.
The climax of the film, for me, is when Lopez' character, having allowed the serial killer into her own mind rather than the reverse, attains enough empathy to do something which screams against all her instincts: she satisifies a desire of the killer himself. The fact that she did this in her own mind ("My world ... my rules") is what clinched the movie for me. Empathy means complete and total emotional understanding of another, and having seen the world, and mind, of the killer, she finally provides the one thing that will give him release on her territory rather than his. The maternal overtones of this act seem to have been overlooked by both the audience and the critics, yet was the highlight of the film for me. Lopez' character didn't have to "understand evil" (as was presented in Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs") in order to free someone from its clutches. She merely had to understand another human, on a level so complete and intimate it made me uncomfortable, yet I found it oddly refreshing.
It also makes me ponder our next step as a species. Having a strong sense of intuition myself, which often leads to empathy, I wonder what would happen if I let ... if I could ... someone see me, from inside of me. Would they be disgusted, bored, titillated? Whatever the reaction, they couldn't help but walk away with understanding of me, and, to me, that's the only way we as a species will ever truly avoid repeating the mistakes of our past.
It's rare for a work of modern entertainment to spur such thoughts in me.