In the Cut review by Mike Long

There is nothing wrong with movies which mix genres. Actually, if done well, these movies can be quite refreshing, with combinations like action/horror or comedy/drama. But, I think that most filmgoers would agree that art-house/thriller sounds like a risky combination. And if In the Cut is any indicator, the combination may be impossible to achieve.

In the Cut stars Meg Ryan as Frannie Avery, a college (?) English professor who mostly keeps to herself, her only strong bond being with her sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). One day, while meeting one of her students at a bar, Frannie observes a couple engaged in a sexual act. She can't see the man's face, but she does notice the tattoo on his wrist. Later, Frannie is approached by police detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), who is investigating a murder which occurred near Frannie's apartment. This unusual pair strike up a heated relationship, despite the fact that Malloy has the same tattoo on his wrist as the man in the bar. When another murder occurs in the neighborhood, Frannie begins to wonder if her life is in danger and if her new lover is a killer.

In the Cut was supposedly a departure for director Jane Campion and star Meg Ryan. Trust me, if I'd seen this movie in the theater, I would have been doing some departing of my own. This train-wreck of a movie is making me re-think my rating of Marci X. In the Cut takes a very mediocre (at best) murder-mystery story and attempts to spice it up by adding risque dialogue, explicit sex, and a dark, artsy look. (Apparently, Jane Campion was pissed that she didn't get to direct Se7en and decided to make her own version.) The result is a tedious and incredibly boring movie.

For starters, there are no likable characters in the movie. Frannie is an emotional zombie and Malloy is an incredible asshole. Because of this, and the fact that he may be a murderer, it's hard for the audience to understand why Frannie would have anything to do with him, much less get all buck-wild with him. The film received some hype based on the fact that it included some strong sexual content and that Meg Ryan is nude in the film. Yes, she is, but is that a good reason to see this movie? Hell no. (And it's never a good sign when the scandalous material in a film is the selling point.) It is interesting to see Ryan play against type, but Frannie is so distant that there doesn't seem to be any real acting going on. (It should be noted that Nicole Kidman is one of the producers of In the Cut and was reported going to play Frannie. Good call.) The miniscule story buckles under the weight of the seedy characters and the ending is incredibly unfulfilling. Campion attempts to fill in the blanks by giving the film an off-kilter look, but the long silent scenes, coupled with the film's two-hour running time ensure a snooze-fest. In the Cut is based on a novel by Susanna Moore, who also contributed to the screenplay. I can only imagine that the book is more interesting, because In the Cut is going in the trash.

In the Cut slices its way onto DVD courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp, but there is a noticeable amount of grain on the image. However, given the dark, Fincher-like look of the film, it's impossible to tell if this is a defect in the transfer or an artistic choice. The dark photography looks good here and the image is never too dark. The occasional flashes of color look fine. There are some obvious black specs on the film from time to time. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track brings us clear dialogue with no overt hissing or distortion. There are some odd stereo or subwoofer effects here, but aside from the low rumbling which exists throughout the film, the track serves only to deliver the dialogue.

The In the Cut DVD contains only four extra features. We start with an audio commentary from director Jane Campion and producer Laurie Parker. This is an interesting, if not dry, commentary, as this pair talks at length about the New York locations, the story and the actors. They do touch on the controversial nature of the film and Campion discloses her reasons for shooting the film in such a dark fashion. Next, we have "Frannie Avery's Slang Dictionary." In the film, Frannie collects slang words, so in this 2 1/2 minute segment we hear a voiceover pronounce and define slang terms while we watch clips from the movie. What fun! "In the Cut: Behind-the-Scenes" (16 minutes) offers comments from Campion, Ryan, Ruffalo, and author Moore, who says, "I was interested in writing about sex because I didn't think it'd been done before." Hello Penthouse Forum! Finally, we have the trailer for In the Cut, which is letterboxed at 1.85:1 and is 16 x 9. It should be noted that this film is being released in two separate DVDs, one R-rated and the other an unrated Director's Cut. For this review, only the R-rated version was viewed, but the unrated version is only 1 minute longer...which would be more than I could take.

2 out of 10 Jackasses

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