Jane Campion’s erotic thriller, In the Cut, is about a serial killer with a penchant for “disarticulation” - slicing off the heads and limbs of women.Curiosity has near-fatal consequences for introverted English professor Frannie (Meg Ryan), who begins shedding inhibitions after witnessing a woman perform fellatio on a tattooed man in a seedy bar. Days later, a macho detective (Mark Ruffalo) with an identical tattoo tells Frannie the woman’s decapitated body has been found nearby. Turned on by his rugged masculinity, Frannie begins a risk-taking affair and is drawn deeper into a noirish New York nightscape of stalking, voyeurism and murder.
Campion and cinematographer Dion Beebe match the dark mood of Susanna Moore’s unsettling novel with some striking visuals, although the screen is so overloaded with visual trickery it’s difficult to tell at times even what season it is.
“I like irony”, Frannie remarks at one point, but it’s the crucial ingredient that’s missing from Ryan’s portrayal. Instead of Moore’s knowing heroine, Frannie is reduced to a blank and reactive little-girl-lost. Ruffalo is terrifically charged, but has to carry the burden of the love scenes. Too many scenes with Frannie’s self-consciously nutty half-sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh, ill-matched with Ryan) interrupt the smooth operation of the thriller plot.In the Cut has much to admire, but the component parts seem at war with each other and fail to mesh satisfactorily.