Dark secrets trigger the bizarre murder of a young foreign student.
Emma Perotti, an ESL teacher at Columbia, stands trial for the murder of her former student An-Ling Huang, a young Chinese artist, allegedly by spraying insulation foam into the mouth of the unconscious An-Ling, pregnant at the time of her death. Snippets of the trial are interspersed with the first-person memories of Emma, her husband Tom and her teenage son Josh. E-mails from An-Ling complete the puzzle, which Trinchieri tantalizingly doles out a piece at a time, along with hints of the lingering family trauma provoked by the death of Emma’s very young daughter Amy. When Emma first meets An-Ling, the girl’s halting speech, shy manner and intense admiration makes her a favorite student of Emma’s. When the class ends, they lose touch. But after Emma runs into the girl, much harder and more mature, at a club in the East Village, they forge a new relationship, more a friendship than before, although An-Ling still refers to Emma as Lady Teacher. Then abruptly, An-Ling, eschewing her Chinese accent, reveals that she is actually Tom’s daughter and has been deliberately stalking the family. Even more unsettling is the moment Josh and Tom interrupt Emma and An-Ling in the middle of a lengthy kiss.
Prolific as Trella Crespi and Camilla T. Crespi (The Trouble with a Hot Summer, 1997, etc.), Trinchieri here debuts most auspiciously as herself.