The mere presence of Michael Shannon in the lead role will be enough for many to check out “Frank and Lola,” but Matthew Ross’s debut film has a goodly number of other things going for it as well. A steamy neo-noir that builds considerable suspense while throwing a succession of narrative curves, it might have been called “Sex, Lies and Videotape” had not the title already been taken—all three are major plot elements, although the VHS element has been updated.

Shannon is Frank, a talented chef who loses his job at an upper-end Vegas restaurant at just about the time he meets Lola (Imogen Poots), a would-be fashion designer who’s also looking for work. The two immediately strike sparks and become a couple.

Their honeymoon is endangered, however, by Frank’s jealousy. His general surliness turns into something more sinister when he sees Lola talking at a bar with Keith (Justin Long), a gregarious young businessman. His suspicions grow darker when Keith finds a position for Lola at a posh boutique.

But Keith does Frank a favor, too, getting him an audition for a position as chief chef at a restaurant a famous gastronome is preparing to open in a Vegas hotel. He’ll need to travel to Paris to prepare a meal for the man, however, if he’s to win the post.

As it happens, that suits Frank perfectly, since he’s just learned that Lola was once raped by Alan (Michael Nyqvist), the lustful and wealthy one-time boyfriend of her freewheeling mother Patricia (Rosanna Arquette). Alan lives in Paris, and Frank plans to use the trip to confront him. When he does, however, Alan, a suave fellow who has an open marriage with his rich wife Claire (Emmanuelle Devos), offers an alternative account that suggests Lola has been deceiving him. Frank has to find some way to discover where the truth lies, and whether his relationship with Lola can be saved.

This is one of those instances in which divulging the details of the plot overmuch would be unfair to both the film and the audience. Suffice it to say that “Frank and Lola” is a picture that casts a moody spell as it wends its way through plot convolutions that depend as much on atmosphere as surprise. That’s a perfect fit for Shannon, who is able with near-minimalist gestures to convey the inner distress of a man obsessed with a woman and bent on sweeping away all doubt about her fidelity. Poots sketches Lola vividly, but she remains a relatively opaque presence by comparison to Frank, to whom Shannon brings such deep reserves of suppressed rage that you expect the screen to burst into violence at any moment. He carries the same sort of intensity into his moves in the kitchen, where you can feel the man’s devotion to his craft as though he were a musician working with his instrument.

The rest of the cast add significant supporting turns. Nyqvist smoothly keeps you guessing until the very end, while Long adds a hint of a possible darker motivation to a character who, on the surface, just seems to be a good-natured back-slapper. Arquette and Devos contribute sharp cameos of women with dubious agendas of their own, and the smaller roles are all cunningly cast. This is obviously a modestly-budgeted film, but production designer Gerald Sullivan and cinematographer Eric Koretz have collaborated to give it a glossily seedy look, while editors Rebecca Rodriguez and Jennifer Lilly maintain a deliberate pace without sacrificing tension and Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans have confected a properly unsettling score.

“Frank and Lola” may not have the complexity of plot and sense of inevitable doom that marked much of the work of a noir master like Jim Thompson, but it offers the same sort of bleak character study that he specialized in. While pleasurably dark itself, it makes one think of how well Shannon would be as the protagonist in an adaptation of one of Thompson’s books.