In The Cut

Movie Review by Neil Ryan

Starring: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici
Director: Jane Campion

As a film IN THE CUT has been overshadowed by the pre-release publicity concerning the supposedly explicit sex scenes. However, don’t believe the hype because, one gratuitous example of fellatio aside, the film only contains one scene which actually depicts two characters gettin’ it on. Meg Ryan stars as Frannie, a lonely English teacher who finds herself embroiled in a nasty murder case which is being investigated by the straight-talking, no-nonsense Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo). Frannie finds herself increasingly attracted to Malloy and through him she enters into a hitherto unknown realm of desires fuelled by animal attraction; but as her involvement with Malloy deepens so does her conviction that she may hold the key to the murderer’s identity.

Despite the crux of the plot centring on a homicide investigation IN THE CUT is not strictly a murder mystery. In fact it could be argued that director Jane Campion betrays the integrity of Malloy to such an extent that one is left wondering whether any of what we see is down to the creative imagination of Frannie (the entire film is seen from her view and she appears in every scene). For example, would Malloy (who claims to be obsessed by the case) having just found out from a witness that they had seen the victim with a strange man right before she was killed immediately walk out on that witness with the insouciant suggestion that they come to the station sometime in the next week. This is just one of many examples of abnormal behaviour for characters who are involved in a celluloid homicide. Clearly this film is less about the solving of a murder than it is about the relationships of those involved with the case. However, despite great performances from Ryan and Ruffalo the psychological sparring of their characters is not sparky or interesting enough to sustain the film on its own.

Neediness is obviously the central theme of the film and every character is desperate to make a connection with someone else. It presents quite a dark and pessimistic view of relationships as underlined by the pre-eminence of shadowy lighting, drab colours, and slightly out-of-focus camerawork. Despite the murder-mystery element playing second fiddle it is still littered with enough inconsistencies to undermine the film as a whole and ultimately IN THE CUT is an unsatisfactory film. It is very well acted and paints a cold, unforgiving portrait of relationships and neediness versus worthiness, but it is too blase about plot and character holes.

3 out of 6 stars

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