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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 24.29%
Pretty Bad: 20%
Total Crap: 14.29%

6 reviews, 34 user ratings

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In the Cut
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by MP Bartley

"If all else fails...just take your clothes off."
3 stars

Yeah, yeah we've heard it all before. A glam actress, suddenley desperate for credibility decides to take a role that includes nudity and/or going ugly. Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry, Gwyneth Paltrow...add Meg Ryan to the list.

Meg Ryan is Franny, an English tutor who lives in a cramped apartment block. With dull brown hair and blinking owlishly behind glasses, this is not the cute-girl-next-door Meg we're used to. Especially when we see her pleasuring herself over a cop she's just met.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. She spends her days between visiting her slutty sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and taking students to bars outside of lessons for extra tuition. And it's in one of these bars that she sees a girl giving a guy some head in a dingy back room. A girl that will later turn up in several pieces and whose murder is being investigated by Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), a sexually frank cop who instigates an instant attraction between he and Franny. But why is she constantly uneasy around him? Is it because his frankness reflects something in her she doesn't like? Or is it because he's closer to the murder than he initially seems?

'In The Cut' will initially be known for a) Ryan getting them out quite frequently and b) a graphic close-up of a blow job in the first ten minutes. But to think of this as just another 'artistic' soft-porn-in-all-but-name flick is doing it a diservice. There's a constant feeling of unease that runs throughout that never lets the audience settle fully into the film or let any snickering at the naughty bits start.

Campion gives the film a raw, dingy feel through the lighting that isn't a million miles away from the look of 'Seven'. This, coupled with intimate, hand-held camera-work, gives tne film a clammy sense of sweat that you can almost smell. It's been a long while since we've heard from Campion, but this is a far cry from the cold and aloof director who brought us 'Portrait of a Lady'. Franny and Malloys developing relationship is raw and animalistic. Phew...

Her work is also well supported by two excellent leads. I never thought this would be something I would write in any sane review, but Ryan is great. Initially cynical going in, I had dismissed it as another actress just using nudity as an excuse for the lack of any depth to the role. But she proved me wrong as after about 15 minutes I forgot I was watching Meg Ryan, I was watching Franny, which is as big a compliment you can get as an actor. She refrains from making Franny a ditzy character, she's not even particulary likeable. Distant and constantly suspicious she makes it hard work to engender affection but when she realises she's in more danger than she thinks, we're with her simply because she acts like a real person would and not like a scream queen would.

Ruffalo too impresses as a pretty unpleasant individual. Coarse and rude in front of Franny, he doesn't particularly care if he offends and doesn't even do it with a wit to make it forgiveable. This blatant behaviour however makes him a character you're constantly intrigued by and also suspicious of, keeping you nicely off balance throughout. The biggest compliment to give Ruffalo here, is that he looks and sounds more like a cop than any other actor I've seen for a few years.

This brave characterisation is a double-edged sword however. Despite the films content and claustrophobic look, emotionally it's pretty vacant as we're kept at a distance by the spiky Franny and brusque Malloy. And beyond the two leads there's not a lot to view. The sub-plot of a growing attraction between Franny and a student is just left hanging and Jason Leigh is underused. But Kevin Bacons small role as a highly-strung ex-boyfriends of Franny is pointless and annoying, that's out of tone with the rest of the film. Can we smell red herring anybody?

So if the use of nudity is more than just an attention grabber, its impact is undone by the fact that, underneath the grubby camera-work and harsh characterisation, lies a plot straight out of 'How to Write a Thriller for Beginners'. The imagination and attention to detail doesn't detract from the very simplistic plot and cliched ending.

While it's all well and good to make thriller that's uncompromising and defiantly adult in style, how about athriller that's adult in content? 'In The Cut' however, resorts to a trick that Donald Kaufman wouldn't have been ashamed of using in 'Adaptation'.

So strip away the salty dialogue, great performances and voyeurism and there's not an actual lot to talk about. Most will see it because of Ryans nudity and if that's your bag baby, fine, you'll be pleased. Just don't be shocked that it's not for titillations sake. And if the more discerning of us go for the style and something different, we'll also be pleased. Just don't be shocked that it is for styles sake in this case.

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originally posted: 11/19/03 04:15:29
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User Comments

3/08/18 rk worst film ever made. forget Plan 9. This movie is 86 1 stars
3/16/17 Ed Riddick Only the fine performance from Ryan partially saves it. Unsuccessful film. 3 stars
11/23/15 celtcat slow torture, beautifuly filmed but that couldn't over ride unlikable characters and uninte 3 stars
5/01/09 Johnboy A sad ageing Ryan trying to restart a dead career in a 'arty(?)' porno flick - RETIRE MEG!! 1 stars
4/29/09 Marc another unique disturbing and beautiful film from Jane campion 4 stars
6/20/06 Nicole Bleck! 2 stars
4/28/06 Angel Unedited version had a close up of a real Blow Job and Ruffalo's frontal shots! 4 stars
9/07/05 Sully tuned my girl on, so we watch it nightly now.... 3 stars
8/14/05 Charlene Javier Simple awful! 2 stars
8/14/05 Dixie Theriault poor adaptation of the novel 3 stars
8/10/05 marie naylor Starts out suspensful,then dies a slow laborious death;apparently along with Ms. Ryan's "co 2 stars
8/05/05 Phil M. Aficionado Weird and choppy and outlandish, despite pretty good acting 2 stars
12/26/04 mjoc This was unwatchable! Pure torture! 1 stars
12/09/04 Landshark Never knew Campion had a sense of humor---the ex-bf (Bacon) & the bouncer (Patrice O'Neal) 4 stars
10/23/04 Sarah really awful, bad acting, bad editing, bad cinematography, and plot - what plot? 1 stars
7/20/04 Jack Viewer Beautiful Meg and very horrible movie. The director sucks! 1 stars
6/24/04 Edgar Brief glimpse of Meg Ryan's turd-ticklers not worth the two hours of unentertaining horror. 2 stars
3/19/04 Teresa Williams Just plain weird and terribly disappointing. 1 stars
3/02/04 Jack Sommersby Fails as a thriller but fairly succeeds as a character study. 3 stars
3/02/04 Just Don't Bore Me Lame, slow, plot devoid prattle. Avoid!!! 1 stars
2/15/04 Charles Tatum They remade "Millennium" with Ryan instead of Lance Henriksen 3 stars
1/21/04 Mandy Seever PC era makes mystery impossible. Rules of PC always give it away. 2 stars
12/30/03 Rosie R See something else. Poor storyline, unerotic sex scenes, sad and lonely people. No thrills. 1 stars
12/27/03 John Bale Campion and Ryan go feral in this dark gritty thriller 4 stars
12/02/03 Chris A sensational film , unfairly hated on. Meg Ryan is amazing. 5 stars
11/25/03 Edgar Brief glimpse of Meg Ryan's turd-ticklers not worth the two hours of unentertaining horror. 2 stars
11/21/03 horndog meg ryan getting reamed. nuff said 5 stars
11/20/03 Ranveer Kunal meg is awesome 5 stars
11/20/03 Roy R. Pryor Another "men are scum" movie with "surprise" twist one could see from lightyears away. 2 stars
11/09/03 prasad not seen yet 5 stars
10/30/03 neguine sanani get ready to experience a love story that is honest and ever so intimate 5 stars
10/27/03 jdogg shallow. gratuitous. soulless. smarmy. and that's just meg ryan. 1 stars
10/27/03 vagile Despite a shallow plot, one's attention never waivers. Dark Perverse. Bravura performances. 4 stars
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  22-Oct-2003 (R)
  DVD: 10-Feb-2004



Directed by
  Jane Campion

Written by
  Jane Campion

  Meg Ryan
  Mark Ruffalo
  Kevin Bacon
  Jennifer Jason Leigh
  Nick Damici
  Sharrieff Pugh

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