84 of 95 people found the following review helpful
"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!
88 of 105 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2003
To be honest, I kind of thought the movie was going to be bad (I didn't like the book), but I went to see it anyway, since I learned that Jane Campion was the director. Having seen and loved her "Angel at my Table," "The Piano," and "Holy Smoke," I was interested in finding out why exactly this independent New Zealand director left Australia and went, so to speak, "Hollywood." Well, it turns out that Campion was only doing a favor for Nicole Kidman, who was going to play the lead role (Nic decided against it later on, and became one of the executive producers instead).
The film itself is gorgeous to look at, although the camera work is a bit shaky, and there are like... hundreds of meaningless close-ups that can drive you totally crazy. And guess what, Meg Ryan DOES take her top off (if you're interested in that sort of thing). But this movie is also very violent and brutal; I heard it almost got an NC-17 rating (our censors cut out a seven-minute chunk of footage with most shocking sex and violence and rated the film R).
Basically, the story is about a somewhat attractive English teacher named Franny (played by Ryan), who suddenly finds herself in the middle of a police investigation when a girl is found murdered near her house. The lead detective working on the case meets and talks to her, and she's instantly attracted. Then, to make things even more complicated (as if the sexually unruly relationship between her and the police officer wasn't enough), Franny remembers that she saw the dead girl somewhere before.
The story is quite interesting, though the ending is fairly simple and predictable. I'd recommend this movie to anyone who loves "romantic thrillers," but don't expect much from it. The acting is excellent (especially Ryan's), the cinematography is beautiful, the music is good, and the plot won't make you wanna yawn, and that's the important thing.
87 of 110 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2003
I just came back from watching this movie about an hour ago and wanted to write a review while it's still fresh in my mind. Before anything else, let me just say, Meg Ryan's performance is SPECTACULAR! It's nothing short of breathtaking. I think this is the performance of her career. Ryan boldly sheds her previously earned image as "Amercia's Sweetheart", and completely reinvents herself for this movie. This time, Ryan plays a quiet, sullen, reserved inner city schoolteacher; her character is a contradiciton, introverted and subdued yet at the same time just SEETHING with dark, delicious, pent-up sensuality. I mean, if you're a heterosexual male, you just GOTTA see her! Dayam! Ryan's character "Frannie" is complex and multifaceted, as is the film; it was a risk, but it works. As Eber said, Ryan's performance is utterly flawless. It by itself is completely worth the price of admission, and will direct all attention away from any inadequacies in the plot :-)
Okay, Meg Ryan aside, the movie was a solid thriller that kept me guessing all the way to the end. The obligate murders are gruesomely described, but actual gore on screen is kept at a tasteful minimum. The plot at times border on derivative and uninspired for this genre, but by and large it was tight enough to serve as an adequate vehicle for Ms. Ryan to burn the screen with her presence. (I know, I promise to stop ranting about her).
Director Jane Campion did an outstanding job with the cinematography and the general feel of the film. For example, the camera is deliberately out of focus around the edges during certain scenes, giving the film a surrealistic, dreamy yet visceral feel. Again, this was a risk that surprisingly worked for me. Symbolism in the film is rich and beautiful, especially the poetry written on the subway train walls, read by Ryan's sultry voice in her mind.
And finally, I'd just like to mention that Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is also a dangerously skilled actress (just watch "Single White Female" or "Washington Square") was tragically underused in this film. At her best, Leigh is every bit as good an actress as Ryan, but she simply wasn't given the chance to shine in this movie. For the role of Frannie's sister Pauline, a lesser actress would have done the job, which could have been done instead of wasting Leigh's precious time :-) But I'm still always glad to see her on screen as well.
In closing, if you're even remotely a fan of Meg Ryan, go see this film now! Don't wait, do it now! You WON'T be disappointed. Oh man, Meg Ryan will be in my dreams tonight... ;-)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2003
Frannie (Meg Ryan) is a depressed and homely (in a beatifully and naturally, potentially untapped sorta way) English teacher troubled by emotional issues and demons of the past. She fantasizes and dreams of passion to escape her everyday dreary existence. She almost represents the saint by day sinner by night persona who soon becomes sexually involved with a hard edged,uncouth, take no crap detective investigating a series of gruesome murders.Malloy is overconfident, cocky and arrogant yet has his soft side or spot for Frannie. She is questioned by detective Malloy after a "piece" of evidence ends up in her garden from one of the murders. As the investigation progresses, the two embark on a relationship that will raise eyebrows and pulses. However, as the story advances or relationship progresses there are clues that begin to make Frannie suspect and accuse Malloy of the murders.
Despite it's strong sexual nature, there is a plot or story. Albeit a very predictable one that is overshadowed by the strong and disturbing performances by most of the cast. This is a good thing because this will anchor viewers to an otherwise Hannibal Lecter or Seven wannabe film. Seems everyone in In The Cut has some serious psychological, psychosexual or emotional issues that need working out. This is a film where it is very difficult to feel compassion for any of the characters despite their woes or troubles.They have become bitter, hardened, lonely and isolated in some ways with a dark and brooding unseething nature. This is not one of those films where you can say "I like her character or persona"---Beware, most of these characters are not likeable in the least sense of the word.What director Campion of In The Cut accomplishes is to show that the characters do not live polished and perfected lives by Hollywood glamorized or perfect family American value standards. It shows human beings with serious and traumatic emotional and psychological problems (this is past Psychology 101---more like 102). It shows human beings in their most vulnerable and somewhat tortured existence...Therefore , this will be a disturbing film to some.
Other than making viewers develop vertigo from the camera lens jumping around, In The Cut served more as a vehicle for Meg Ryan to finally shed her "America's Sweetheart" image (or is that Julia Robert's title). Dark and dreary doesn't even begin to describe the atmosphere of the film. More like morose.Did I mention bloody or gory? Is the plot or story predicatble and simple? You bet. Don't try to read or search for a deeper meaning because there is none other than to see some fine acting talent. The acting is what will entice the viewer to see Ryan's tremendous performance and character live out her almost obsessive psycho-sexual indulgences or fantasies as an opressed and depressed English teacher. Trust me, Ryan sheds more than her upbeat usual acting gig in this film. This project's atmosphere and characters are best described as grimy and grungy and all seem to have a sleaze factor and some sort of emotional or psychological issue/s. The sexual nature of the film and language is very candid or explicit and not at all what most people would think of as a thriller with a soft romantic or passionate side between the two main characters. Still, I will give In The Cut 3 stars for the excellent performances by it's own stars. As for the story or plot many will be disappointed. What disapponted me the most is the lack of depth of the psychological thriller/mystery portion of the film and it's high predictability simplistic level. It just wrapped up suddenly, too neat and tidy in the end (though it was bloody)...
50 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2003
The movie was a great surprise to me and my friends when we went to see it. At first it appeared to be a typical independent type movie, with the usual expectation of a rather depressing outlook on life accompanied with a very raw cinematography, and usually little hope for a happy ending. However this is the first film I've seen that successfully incorporates the rawness and up front honesty of the characters lives, combined with the great, well written storyline and wonderful acting. And the cinematography, although raw, provided some beautiful scenes, and the symbolism and use of focus put the viewer in Franny's mindset of a very creative person, who doesn't see life through typical eyes. It was quite `trippy' and I found it to be very original.
The movie centralises around Franny (Meg Ryan) and her encounter with a police detective (Mark Ruffalo) after she witnesses something that might be important to a murder that is committed. At first it seems that it would be impossible for a relationship to begin between the two but as the movie progresses a surprisingly sweet love story plays out. I first thought that the writers had resigned to a predictable `who done it' in order to focus on the relationship that was blossoming, however I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't realise who the killer was, till it was actually revealed to the audience.
Meg Ryan's performance was brilliant and she really pulls off the change of image well!! And Mark Ruffalo was so magnetic, you can really fall in love with him. His character has a rough surface with a sweet caring middle and Mark Ruffalo really portrays this perfectly.
In The Cut was very dark, yet very enjoyable and satisfying. It has a beautiful balance of eroticism, romance and thriller. My friends and I honestly couldn't stop talking about it for at least three days and we've seen it many times since and still love it!! I've recommended this movie to all my friends!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2004
I expected little from this film after the scathing reviews it received. But, I thought, there was the promise of Meg Ryan in the altogether, and frank explicit sexuality. Why not rent it? There are worse ways to spend a rainy day! To my surprise, I found the movie very engrossing and well-made. The sex scene in the bar was quite erotic -- it's rare Hollywood shows you even snippets of full-blown fellatio (pardon the pun). The scene was as outrageous and stimulating as the notorius oral sex sequence in the old Italian film, "Devil in the Flesh." While Meg was a mere observer to this graphic act, the fact that the "boundary line" was crossed -- that between mainstream cinema and porn -- intrigues me. What might be next if Hollywood takes this direction? Are movies nearing a threshold like that in the 1960s after which every R-rated film exposes female breasts as a matter of course? Let's hope so. Anyway, the intimate scenes with Meg and Mark Ruffalo, while not as blatantly explicit, were pretty darn good, and invite scrutiny. There seemed few fake moves; no body doubles, no arty cuts to reduce the impact of the bodies naked. Applause!
The sex aside, "In The Cut" featured very good performances from all the actors (Ryan, Ruffalo, Kevin Bacon, brushing up against his acting limitations, yet still interesting, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh, who could use a diet and looked stoned in the DVD extras), and was directed with a poetic style, albeit with obvious symbolism. The cinematography was appropriately dark, and the seaminess of NYC was integrated nicely into the story. But about the story: entirely predictable, sort of a pulpy film noir from 60 years ago when such things, filmed in black and white, were new. Some sex talk was forced -- there's a laughable phone-sex call between Ruffalo and Ryan which must have had the crew in stitches when filmed -- an obvious attempt to shock, to be "adult." Yet again, I realize this racy albeit salacious material is not the stuff of ordinary Hollywood cinema -- maybe that's the point, to introduce a new realism, even if the attempt is awkward. Back to the plot. I am no rocket scientist but I figured out early who the killer was (watch the fellatio scene closely -- you'll see). Nevertheless, I wasn't completely certain (especially as the Ruffalo detective has a notable psycho tinge to him, as if he's hiding an unglued personality), and that mystery kept me gripped to the end.
I ask you this: why has the film, rather slight in its drama, and almost cliched, been subject to so much vitriole? Why do people care? By comparison, "9 1/2 Weeks" or "Basic Instinct," with objectionable content at the time, got off (pardon the pun, again) much easier with critics. I think it's because "In The Cut" has touched a raw nerve, having to do with a high profile female star and an Academy Award winning female director tackling typically male subject matter. It doesn't seem tasteful, when 19th century Merchant-Ivory-like films beckon to be made, or funny romances between modern, wise-cracking neurotics. And too I think people like their porn as porn, and their Meg Ryan as the sparky bright-eyed doe she was in "When Harry Met Sally." Expectations are foiled. Maybe the director should be given kudos for rattling cages?
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 18, 2010
I saw this last night. Some movies are meant to challenge. If some people can't handle adult material then they're welcome to insulate themselves, though it's more than likely they've already seen more objectionable material on the net.
This movie is not porno, it's not perverted; it's about as sick as real life itself is sometimes sick. The alienation of the two main characters is something they are facing within themselves so they can start living again... truly living. It's a gritty and realistic love story and it has a happy ended within the context of their lives. The sex is not sick, but the grisly murders are. Worse murders have happened in reality but this was bad enough and it's reflection of what can happen in real world situations. Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo's performances are outstanding. So is the direction and the cinematography. It's a film for adults who understand eroticism, emotional and physical hunger, alienation and loss... and Jane Campion does her usual outstanding direction in handling such adult material. It's a Five star film for those who can set their usual prejudices aside to watch how the two main characters learn to love, heal and understand each other under conspicuously tragic circumstances. Jennifer Jason Lee is outstanding as Ryan's sister, but let's not mistake the sometimes unsympathetic and unappealing nature of their roles as bad performances or a bad movie. The movie is meant to challenge and awaken, and everyone put their lives on the line to tell this story--an outstanding effort!
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2004
I watched this film because I am a fan of thrillers, I didn't think I would enjoy it because of Meg Ryan (who I thought was a very one dimensional actor - how wrong was I?) and I also didn't think that Mark Ruffallo was your typical leading man, definatly not someone I would have been attracted to - so I thought well....
The movie was fantastic, Meg Ryan is anything but one dimensional in this film! she showed a depth as an actress that I think we rarely see. Mark made his character Giovanni, increadibly erotic and sexy - and I was hooked watching to see how this unusual (yet far more realistic than most hollywood love affairs) love affair would progress. The thriller side of it I found also very enjoyable, I loved the way that the tension is built. All the characters were either suspects or potential victims, although I knew from the begginning it couldn't be the student, I oscillated around suspecting all the characters at some point. Jane Campion is a fantastic director, and has handled her debut into film noir with grace and sophistication. Even the much talked about fellatio scene was well lit and very artistic. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie, and felt compelled to watch it again immediatly after. I have seen this movie five times now, and every time I watch it I get something different out of it. I think it is one of those films that you either love or hate, but it is well worth watching.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2005
I'm not going to rehash the plot of this movie since that has been done here already. I will say that I love it because of:
1. The amazing chemistry between Meg Ryan (Frannie) and Mark Ruffalo (Malloy)
2. Kevin Bacon's surprise appearance (Is that...? Nah. Can't be. It is!)
3. Frannie's fascination with words and language
4. The loving/nonjudgmental relationship between Frannie and her half-sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh)
5. The way diverse plot strands were perfectly intertwined to form a surreal, but ultimately cohesive, mystery.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Pay attention to the fact that this is the "unrated and uncut director's edition" of "In the Cut," because when you get to the part that merits this distinction you will either do a double-take or your jaw will just drop (or both). Actually, there are two scenes with added footage, but the first one is much more noticeable (and graphic). I can just imagine some Meg Ryan fan is going to pop this into the DVD player with the kiddies in the room and suddenly find themselves wishing they were watching something safe like the halftime show at the Super Bowl. You were warned.
"In the Cut" is the movie where Meg Ryan gets naked, which is apparently the easiest way to refer to this 2003 film, which is directed by Jane Champion and adapted from by the director and the writer from the novel by Susanna Moore. The nudity is appropriate because Meg Ryan's character, Frannie Avery, is a sexual creature and the motivation for most of which she does in this film is sexual in nature. Besides, Frannie looks and acts differently enough from her other roles that I had no problem thinking this was Frannie naked and not Meg Ryan. You can argue that her nudity should have been in the service of a much better film (i.e., something on the level of "The Piano"), but I do not think you can fault its honesty in this film.
At its core "In the Cut" is a slasher flick, but one that pays little attention to the slasher when they are doing their evil deeds. The focus is on Frannie and the way that she insists on treading into dangerous waters because apparently that is where there is really great sex. After a woman is brutally murdered and "dearticulated," Frannie meets homicide detective James Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), who is investigating the case. She thinks she has seen him and he is interested in her. He is rather crude, but it turns out he can deliver in the bedroom and the fact that Frannie is suspicious about who he really is does not matter anymore, even as the killings start coming closer to home for her. Apparently great sex or even the possibility of great sex is worth dying for in the world in which Frannie lives. The most real relationship Frannie has is with her half-sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), and while they have some realistic and earnest talks about their sex lives, her sister only serves to enable Pauline to walk on the wild side.
The relationship between Frannie and Malloy (the term "romance" does not apply) might be strange and weird but it at least feels real. The problem with "In the Cut" is in the thriller part of the equation, because the obvious answer is so obviously wrong that figuring out the mystery part is not that difficult. Fortunately the slasher part of the equation is ultimately the less important part of the story, which is a strange and weird statement to make, but watch the movie and it will make sense.
Actually, the part at which I thought the film went too far was, oddly enough, a pivotal scene set at the Little Red Lighthouse beneath the George Washington Bridge. When Captain Kangaroo died I reviewed that book, because of the strong association I had with it and the beloved Captain, so seeing it as a setting in this movie was one of those things that inspired sudden visions of grave spinning. Of course, if I had seen this film a month earlier I would not have had that reaction.