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Meg Ryan, during one
of the few scenes where
she's actually dressed.

In the Cut
Review written by: Alex Sandell

If it does nothing else (and it doesn't), In the Cut proves that a woman's sex drive doesn't peak at 35 years old, but rather at 40 - at least if said woman is Meg Ryan, and she's looking to shed her romantic comedy image.  Meg goes all out in this picture to make us forget that she's the star of Kate & Leopold, You've Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally.  If her performance in In the Cut is any indication, Meg was merely using romantic comedies as a stepping stone to her real dream of being a soft-core porn star.

In the Cut is the newest film by Jane Campion.  If Ms. Campion manages to leave behind a legacy as a director, it will be one of getting popular actors naked.  In The Piano she had Harvey Keitel swinging his wiener around like the school bully used to do in the locker room, back when I was in 7th grade.  In the atrocious Holy Smoke, Campion not only managed to get her celebrities nude, she got one of them (Kate Winslet) to urinate on camera.  Having the Titanic chick piss on cue didn't help Jane Campion's Holy Smoke at the box-office, but, if her most recent film is any indication, poor box-office receipts didn't muzzle the director's love of celebrity flesh.  In the Cut will forever cement Campion's status as the art-house Russ Meyer.

The film is a hopelessly poor amalgamation of an erotic thriller and hard-boiled mystery.  Seeing as how it's neither erotic, nor thrilling, and being that the mystery is predictable and full of red herrings that would embarrass Scooby-Doo, it fails on all levels.  It does get Meg Ryan naked a lot.  And for some people that may be enough. 

Ryan plays Frannie Avery, a sexually repressed creative writing teacher who likes to masturbate, and has a thing for words.  Avery happens to be in the wrong bar at the wrong time.  A murder happened the night she was there.  Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) knocks on her apartment door and reveals his goofy looking Burt Reynolds's mustache.  I've liked Ruffalo's work in almost everything I've seen him in, but this stupid mustache really gets in the way.  Every time I saw him, I couldn't help thinking of Cannonball Run.  But he somehow manages to give another strong performance, even if it is hidden behind that ridiculous facial hair. 

Detective Malloy has some questions for Frannie.  What Frannie doesn't tell Malloy is that she saw a man shrouded in the cover of shadows, receiving a blowjob.  The man had a tattoo on his wrist.  The same tattoo Malloy is currently brandishing!  Frannie Avery, all hot and bothered over all that masturbating she's been doing, must consider this an aphrodisiac, and, instead of reporting this to anyone of any importance, she decides to fuck Malloy for all that he's worth.  How sad the blowjob girl winds up dead.  DEAD!  But, by this point, Frannie is lost inside the devilish world of sins of the flesh.  There's not very much time to solve a crime when you're busy repeatedly taking your clothes off, having sex and then putting your clothes back on, again. 

And what a distraction these scenes of sex and nudity eventually become.  Never in my life did I think I'd hear myself saying that scenes of sex and/or nudity are distractions, but this movie is bogged so far down in sex and skin, that it never really picks itself back up.  Maybe if the sex was even slightly titillating, but watching Frannie and Malloy going at it is about as tantalizing as watching C-3P0 and R2-D2 doing the nasty.  Everything is staged to the point where one of those late night Marilyn Chambers' Cinemax movies come off as the pinnacle of erotic entertainment, in comparison. 

There are breaks from the robotic erotica here and there, for someone else to get murdered in a grisly fashion.  And then there are the numerous characters thrown in to keep the audience off the trail of the real killer.  There's the determined student obsessed with proving the innocence of a serial killer.  The ex-boyfriend stalking poor Frannie.  I don't even remember who else is thrown into the mix, but they're all inconsequential, as this film really only cares about two of its stars:  Meg Ryan's left breast, and the other one, over on the right.  Her exposed buttocks may win "best supporting ass."

It's sad that one of the finest performances comes from Kevin Bacon, playing Frannie's crazy stalker ex-boyfriend in an entirely paltry (and smartly uncredited) role.  If he were a herring, Bacon would definitely be painted bright red.  And then there's Jennifer Jason Leigh as Frannie's sister.  Leigh steals the show, which is incredible, being that she's such a minor player in the picture.  This is most likely because she doesn't take off any of her clothes.  Screenwriter and Director, Jane Campion may just be the first "feminist" sexist to hit Hollywood.  What it boils down to is this:  if you aren't going through the cursory motions of copulation, you aren't given the time of day by Campion.

So we've got soft-core porn disguised in thriller's clothing.  To make things appear more "thriller-ish," the film is shot through the bouncy, handheld, grainy-ass camera that's become so popular with the art-house crowd, these days.  That camera works for some films, and some films don't have the money to use anything better, but Campion's going to find out that you can't convince a group of critics that your movie is "artistic" simply because you hire a drunken cameraman who can't hold the camera straight and forgot to clean off the lens before shooting.

With exception made for the acting, which ranges from average to really good, this film is a complete waste of time.  When it finally does get around to reaching the "thrilling" climax, the audience is almost too bored to laugh at the ludicrousness of it all.  The film was never very well put together, but it completely falls apart during the finale.  Campion throws every single trapping of almost every thriller ever made our way during the final act.  We have a series of amazing (and incredibly convenient) coincidences, and then the predictable "twist" toward the end, followed by the most flaccid finale I've seen since Richard Gere strolled into the cop shop in Unfaithful.  Skip this one, even if you can see it for free, on cable.

On a scale of 1-10?

2

What does this rating mean?  Everyone rates things differently.  Your "5" could be my "7," or vice-versa.  Find out what MY rating means by clicking here

Agree? Disagree? Feeling bored and wanna write a letter that you'll probably never get a response to?  Email me at alex@juicycerebellum.com 

Coming soon -- Reviews of The Matrix Revolutions, Elf, and Master and Commander!

Other recent film reviews on THE JUICY CEREBELLUM (click on a film's title to go to its review):

Scary Movie 3

Pieces of April

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

House of the Dead

Kill Bill

Mystic River

The Rundown

Cold Creek Manor

The Fighting Temptations

Underworld

Once Upon a Time in Mexico

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].