In the Cut

As everybody knows by now, Meg Ryan goes nude in In the Cut, adapted from Susanna Moore's novel. Now, for this to overshadow everything else in the film is not a good thing. It happens because there is little else in the film to talk about. It's sad that baring one's breasts can get so much attention, but Ryan has cultivated a 'good girl' quality to her that has pigeon-holed her into romantic comedy roles. In the Cut is an attempt to remind people that she can act, and she has entrusted this task to director Jane Campion, a director who has done good things with Holly Hunter (The Piano) and Nicole Kidman (The Portrait of a Lady) but not for Kate Winslet (Holy Smoke). In fact, Kidman was originally supposed to be in the lead. She retains a producer credit on the film, and it's a good thing she didn't star in it. While Ryan shows that she can do something different, she doesn't stand out in any way.

Ryan (Kate & Leopold, Proof of Life) is Frannie, an English teacher who lives in a daze. She had nothing going in her life except that she seems to be writing a book on slang. This point then goes nowhere. Frannie is close to her half-sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh, Road to Perdition, Hey Arnold! The Movie), but not to many other people. One day at a bar, she espies a woman orally servicing a man in the bathroom. The man's face is in the shadows, but she does see a three of clubs tattooed on his wrist. Later she learns that said woman was viciously murdered, and a body part was left outside her window. In comes Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo, My Life Without Me, View from the Top), who quickly puts the moves on her.

It's very clear that Malloy is playing some sort of mind game with Frannie. He seduces her, pushes her away, then pulls her in. He's clearly violating about a million police conduct rules, but that's entirely beside the point. What Frannie notices is that he has a three of clubs tattoo on his wrist, and she begins to suspect that he is the murderer. Even after her suspicions begin, she still continues her relationship with Malloy, which is the most frustrating aspect of In the Cut. Yes, Frannie is lonely, but can one believe that her desire for companionship (with Malloy) supercedes her desire for survival? Malloy is a sleazeball, and his actions may or may not hint that Frannie is the next victim.

Frannie comes off as stupid. And the plot is too thin to sustain itself for two hours, which leaves lots of time for nudity. Kevin Bacon (Mystic River, Trapped) even shows up as Frannie's stalker ex-boyfriend, but his cameo is pointless. In the Cut just drones along until nobody cares who killed the woman. Campion is merely playing games with the audience, just as Malloy is playing with Frannie. Ryan does show that she is capable of doing non-romantic comedy work, but the Frannie character is so hollow that Ryan constantly looks like she is channeling nothing (well, it's still something different). The point is that her character is so desperate for some sort of personal connection that she is willing to risk her life to keep it. However, by taking two hours to get this point across, Campion takes In the Cut and drags it to its death.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 58 minutes, Rated R for strong sexuality including explicit dialogue, nudity graphic crime scenes and language.

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