Movie review

In The Cut
Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo
Jennifer Jason Leigh

Director : Jane Campion

In The CutFrannie Avery, a lonely New York writing teacher, lives a life largely removed from the outside world; her sister and her students being the only people she has any real interaction with. Whilst in a bar with a student who is assisting her in a study of street slang, she inadvertently wanders into a basement room and stumbles across a man and a woman having sex. Seemingly unnoticed, and both shocked and transfixed by what she sees, Frannie stands watching in the shadows.
    Shortly after this experience, she drawn into the investigation of a brutal murder that was carried out near her apartment, and as a result comes into contact with the mysterious and alluring Detective Malloy. Their attraction to each other seems to confuse both of them - Malloy the atypical male New York cop and Frannie the poetic, vulnerable teacher - but the ever increasing power of their attraction eventually spills over into a highly charged sexual journey. This proves to be an awakening for Frannie, as frightening as it is enlightening, as she starts to get in touch with her own desires.
    Malloy is not the only one attracted to Frannie's elusive sensuality, with her obsessive ex-boyfriend and one of her students also vying for her attentions. As events surrounding Frannie's life take a turn for the menacing, and with a brutal murderer still on the loose, it seems that there is no one left who she can trust.

In The Cut, based on the novel by Susanna Moore, is an extremely brave and powerful offering from director Jane Campion. The film has some extremely strong scenes, even by today's standards, but these are balanced out well by sensually atmospheric scenes that effectively draw Frannie as a woman whose character is at odds with the harshness of the world around her and the people that inhabit that world. Meg Ryan is a revelation as Frannie, a role that could not be further removed from how we are used to seeing her. It's clear from the vibrancy of her performance that this was a part she felt passionately about, even committing to screen her first full nude scenes.
    Mark Ruffalo also puts in a good performance as the tough masculine Malloy, a role which is also a divergence from those he has played previously, and Jennifer Jason Leigh puts in a great performance as Frannie's sister Pauline, the only downside to her performance being that she is not on screen more.
    Kevin Bacon is . . . well, Kevin Bacon, playing the erratic and scary looking ex-boyfriend - scary looking largely because he's . . . well, Kevin Bacon.

Though there is plenty here for both men and women to enjoy, one thing about the story that did not sit well - though some women may feel that it's not entirely a bad thing, given the lack of strong female characters in past years - is that there is not a single positive male character in the entire film. The only male character portrayed with any real sense of humanity is an obese homosexual pimp. Whilst this is in a way somewhat necessary in relaying the increasing sense of distrust that Frannie experiences, it gives the impression that her internalised existence is a reaction to the fact that all men are genuinely flawed and will inflict only betrayal, disillusion and harm on any woman who comes into contact with them (which I'd like to think isn't entirely true).
    On the whole though, In The Cut is a highly original and well executed affair, proving a definite career highlight for both Ryan and Campion alike.

:: Philip Goodfellow

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