While most directors approach film noir from the outside, John Dahl (at left) intuitively penetrates to the heart of the beast, luxuriating in its fatalism, duplicity and despair. He also understands that laughter and shivers can be bedfellows. As played by Linda Fiorentino (right) with career-making gusto, Bridget Gregory is a virtuoso of venom, her amorality so cold even her attorney asks her, "Anybody ever check you for a heartbeat?" The story unwinds as Bridget takes off from Manhattan with the loot her unsavory husband (Bill Pullman) has scored from a drug deal to to wreak havoc in an upstate New York town. Peter Berg co-stars (Cinemax Wednesday at 9:30 p.m.).