Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by director Jane Campion
and producer Laurie Parker; Deleted scenes; Making of featurette;
US theatrical trailer; UK Theatrical trailer.
FOR a woman to be taken seriously in Hollywood nowadays, it seems
that some form of nudity is required, especially if an actress
is attempting to dispense with an established image.
When Nicole Kidman shed her clothes in Londons West End,
in The Blue Room, for instance, the quality roles came flooding
in, culminating in an Oscar, while Halle Berry bared all, and
also stole the keys to the Academy, for Monsters
Step forward Meg Ryan, former rom-com queen and Hollywood sweetheart,
who has opted for one of the most radical image makeovers possible
for her latest, a sexually explicit psychological thriller which
makes for riveting yet uncomfortable viewing.
Ryan stars as a lonely teacher who witnesses the prelude to a
brutal murder and begins a dangerous relationship with one of
the investigating police detectives (Mark Ruffalo). Yet as she
opens up her heart, it seems the identity of the killer could
be much closer to home than she thinks.
Based on the best-selling novel by Susanna Moore and directed
by Jane Campion, In The Cut is, as one might expect, an excellent
vehicle for Ryan to showcase her acting credentials.
Although previous attempts to go serious - in movies
such as When A Man Loves A Woman and Courage Under Fire - have
only really hinted at what she is capable of, this is the real
deal, a gritty, even dirty, urban thriller, which functions on
It would be a shame, therefore, if the much-publicised nudity
detracts from an otherwise first-rate potboiler, for only the
foolish would enter this particular experience in search of a
In terms of content and style, In The Cut has to rate as one
of the most consistently adult mainstream movies of the year,
seldom flinching from its graphic portrayal of sex, or the aftermath
of many of the crime scenes.
And while certain moments do appear a little voyeuristic (the
inclusion of a fully erect penis close-up feels a little unwarranted,
for instance), the overall effect is to create an overwhelming
sense of fear that seldom allows the viewer to get comfortable
This is much less an erotically-charged whodunit, than a serious
look at the psychology of modern relationships, as played out
against a disturbing and violent crime in a city as big as New
It is easy to feel lost, even hopeless, and Ryan expertly conveys
the introverted tendencies of her repressed teacher, frequently
appearing vulnerable and on the verge of becoming a victim.
Her relationship with Ruffalos frank detective is fraught
with peril, frequently forcing viewers to confront some difficult
issues, in between deciding whether he could really be a suspect,
while her interplay with her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is
tenderly realised, providing a sounding board for the anxieties
she so obviously feels.
Ruffalo, too, excels as the plain-talking cop, exuding screen
presence and a great deal of charisma as a man whose outwardly
brash demeanour belies someone who is struggling to cope with
the atrocities he is forced to witness on a daily basis. If anything,
the movie belongs to him.
The film is actually at its strongest when exploring the psychology
of their relationship, and only really feels like a whodunit during
the final stages, when the killings accelerate and the countdown
to the inevitable discovery of guilt takes place.
Yet even then, Campion refuses to become overly melodramatic,
refusing to compromise the impact of what has come before. It
might not make for a comfortable night at the movies, but it will
remain with you for some time afterwards, making In The Cut a
success both for its director, and the stars, whose performances
will probably rate among the finest of their careers.
It is, in a nutshell, provocative cinema at its best.