Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

IN THE CUT's Mark Ruffalo & Meg Ryan

Directed by: Jane Campion.
Produced by: Laurie Parker & Nicole Kidman.
Written by: Jane Campion & Susanna Moore, based upon her novel.
Director of Photography: Dion Beebe.
Edited by: Alexandre de Franceschi.
Music by: Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson.
Released by: Screen Gems.
Country of Origin: USA. 118 min. Rated: R.
With: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici & Sharrieff Pugh.

A flaccid thriller as lifeless as the film’s many decapitated corpses. Frannie, teacher and poet, distrusts men (her father abandoned her as a teenager), yet she’s sexually drawn to Detective Malloy (Ruffalo). He interviews her regarding the killing of a young woman whose head is found in her garden. Frannie may or may not have seen the killer on the night in question. Thrown into this morbid mix is a high school student (Pugh) with a crush on Frannie and serial killer John Wayne Gacy, Frannie’s deadpan half-sister Pauline (Leigh), a stalking ex-boyfriend, and Mallory’s homophobic partner, Detective Rodriguez (Damici). Lacking chemistry or passion, Frannie and Malloy’s eventual coupling is automatic. Although Malloy is blunt and coarse, he is apparently the master of cunnilingus. Many of their scenes feel disjointed, giving one the sense that they have been severely edited. It’s as if the actors are in different scenes. But refreshingly, Ryan abandons the mannerisms of her romantic comedies (as well as her clothes), and instead effectively retreats behind her glasses and bangs. She looks like The Hours’s Nicole Kidman (one of the producers) as an attractive Virginia Woolf wearing a summer dress. (Coincidentally, Frannie teaches Woolf in her class.) Ryan even sounds like Kidman and brings an emotional depth to her role. But fans of the novel will most likely feel the film is a compromised adaptation, which is inevitable given the book’s brutality (if faithfully depicted would have given In the Cut an NC-17 rating) and droll first-person stream-of-consciousness narrative, which took the reader inside the heroine’s mind. Instead, there’s not as much, or enough, character complexity. And without the pace and tension of the detective genre, there’s little to hold interest. As Malloy says of Frannie, “You’re f------ exhausting,” the same can be said of this film. KT
October 22, 2003



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