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In the Cut
I have just about had it with these arthouse films starring A-list actors that are more fartsy than artsy. Just because an actress dies her hair brown and shows her breasts does not make her able to handle a complex role. It didn't work for Nicole in Human Stain and it doesn't work for Meg Ryan in In the Cut.
I don't have a problem with brown hair or breasts (I love foreign film which happens to have both of these items in spades). Nor do I have a problem with Nicole Kidman or Meg Ryan. What I do have a problem with is the idea that filmmakers are under the impression that we as audience members will be so titillated by the shot of boobies that we lose our ability to know a crap film when we see one.
In the Cut was so bad that, had I not been a professional film reviewer, I would have walked out. It's as though Campion was drunk when she wrote the script and high when she directed the film.
Meg Ryan's character, a high school English teacher named Frannie, begins an affair with a police detective who is investigating a series of brutal murders. The first murder has taken place in Frannie's New York apartment building; and the victim, a young woman, was raped and beheaded. Even though Frannie suspects this detective might actually be the murderer, she decides to stay with him because the sex is really great and, I guess we're supposed to believe that's reason enough. We're also supposed to believe a woman can be seduced by ridiculous lines like, "I'll be whatever you want me to be. The only thing I won't do is beat you up." Actor Mark Ruffalo's delivery of these lines only adds to the absurdity.
Between the bad writing and Meg Ryan's detached performance, In The Cut is flat, pointless, and un-watchable. Frannie makes one illogical decision after the next and seems to have no goals, aspirations or interests. The audience has no reason to care about what happens to her. It horrifies me to think that anyone one will watch this film and get the impression that Frannie is somehow representative of womankind or that any woman watching this film identifies with her.
If the audience could believe that Frannie was somehow using her relationship with the detective to find out who the real killer was, the film might have been halfway interesting. Instead the film is like a cheap novel you flip through at your mother in law's house stopping only to read the sex scenes and the ending. But with In the Cut there's no skipping to the good parts.
Campion lives up to her reputation for a unique cinematic style and takes some chances with the camera work of In the Cut. She utilizes some interesting angles when filming Meg Ryan, and does a fair job of creating a heavy and mysterious mood. Unfortunately, Campion fails to build any suspense. In addition, there are several striking but meaningless images such as: a bride and groom waiting in the subway and a shot of flower petals falling like snow. I imagine these moments are meant to evoke a fairytale quality, but they felt terribly out of place and I wondered when Stevie Nicks was going to appear.
In the Cut was based on a novel of the same name and the author, Susanna Moore, helped pen the script. If I were supreme empress of the world I would ban both of these women from ever making a film again and send Meg Ryan back to the land of romantic comedies from where she never should have strayed in the first place. It won't get me the two hours of my life back, but at least I'd take comfort in the thought they would never waste my time ever again.
-Megan A. Denny