Based on Susanna Moore's popular novel, In the Cut centers
on Frannie ( Meg Ryan ), an emotionally stifled English teacher
who gets steamy with sultry Malloy ( Mark Ruffalo, You Can Count
On Me), a cop who's investigating a series of brutal murders--but
Frannie soon suspects that Malloy may be the killer. As a psychological
thriller, In the Cut is heavier on psychology than thrills;
the story is a skeleton that director Jane Campion (The Piano,
An Angel at My Table) cloaks in one of the most nightmarish
visions of urban life since Taxi Driver or Seven, accompanied
by lots of explicit sex. The movie's dark tone will put some
viewers off, but Ruffalo's effortless magnetism serves him well;
no woman in the audience will question how quickly Ryan falls
into bed with him. Also featuring Jennifer Jason Leigh and an
uncredited Kevin Bacon.
"In The Cut" is an adaptation of Susanna Moore's
excellent novel of the same title, published in 1995. Director
Jane Campion has departed significantly from the novel in several
places, especially with the ending, but has managed to capture
much of the book's eroticism, dark edginess, and palpable suspense.
Frannie Avery, superbly acted by Meg Ryan, is an attractive
35 year-old divorcee who lives in a two room apartment on Washington
Square. She teaches creative writing at NYU to a group of inner-city
teens. She is also a connoisseur and scholar of language and
is writing a book on street slang and its derivatives. Frannie
takes chances. She is a sexual risk taker. However, she lives
in her own private world where she spends an incredible amount
of time pondering the nature of language, which leaves her vulnerable
to her surroundings...and reality. Frannie is not at all street
savvy. And her nearsightedness allows her to disengage even
more from the potentially dangerous world in which she lives.
One late afternoon, in a neighborhood bar, she makes a trip
to the ladies room and inadvertently walks-in on a couple engaged
in an intimate act. The man's face is obscured by shadow but
she does notice that he has a unique tattoo on the inside of
his wrist. A few days later a NYC homicide detective, James
E. Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), seeks Frannie out for an interview.
There has been a brutal murder in the neighborhood. The victim
is the woman Frannie saw performing the sex act in the bar.
The evening Frannie saw her was her last.
Malloy takes risks also. He totally defies all rules about
relationships between a detective and potential witness and
acts on the tremendous sexual attraction between Frannie and
himself. Malloy epitomizes the "tough guy with a badge,"
his frank blunt language adding to Frannie's turn-on. From the
first, however, she knew that Malloy had a tattoo on his wrist
- a tattoo she had seen once before.
Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Pauline, Frannie's spacey, obsessive
half-sister and the person Frannie is closest to and loves.
She lives above a topless bar in downtown Manhattan and the
affection both women feel for the erotic dancers, the entire
ambiance of the club and its proximity to their lives, reestablishes
the sense of careless oblivion to danger. Together the two ponder
the ups and downs of being female, discuss sexuality and romance
and their father's many foibles.
Kevin Bacon is Frannie's off-the-wall ex-boyfriend who stalks
her and maintains a threatening presence throughout. And Sharrieff
Pugh is excellent as one of Frannie's brightest students who
is fixated upon John Wayne Gacy.
Jane Campion, an extraordinary director, has not given us a
typical mystery thriller about a vicious serial killer. "In
The Cut" is more an exploration of the sexuality and inner
life of an intelligent, creative, emotionally starved women
approaching middle age. Detective Mallory's aggressive masculinity
and the threat of the physical danger which surrounds her jar
Frannie awake. The films portrays an urban environment of muted
violence just waiting to explode and the colors and sounds of
Campion's New York add to the building tension. There are some
superbly staged sequences which give a hallucinatory, almost
nightmarish quality to the scenes. The intense and honest performances
really compensate for the movie's flaws. I found myself totally
absorbed. Recommended - but be warned, this is not a movie for
the sqeamish or faint of heart!