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IN THE CUT
Unrated Director's Cut

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Director: Jane Campion
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 119 Minutes
Release Date: February 10, 2004

“Are you a writer?”

“Yeah.”

“What’s all this?”

“Words, quotes that I like…poetry.”

“Is it like a job or a hobby?”

“A passion.”

Film *

Oh, dear reader, believe me when I tell you that rarely have I ever been turned off by such a poor excuse for a movie…

In the Cut managed to receive early hype based on the fact that it was a most sexually explicit thriller, and that it was a big time departure for the movie's star, Meg Ryan. Seeing as the director was Jane Campion, director of The Piano, and the casting also includes Mark Ruffalo, an actor I've grown to like, I had a feeling that this may add up to one of the more provocative offerings in recent memory. Boy was I ever misled.

I try to give any movie I watch a certain chance, no matter how bad the reputation, and the truth is I couldn't even begin to invest any enjoyment in the 119 minutes of this tripe fare. The plotline, if you were to ever assume there actually an existent one, is nothing different from the cheap erotic fare that was playing in the nearby multiplex ten years ago following the success of the much better Basic Instinct.

The setup of the story involves NYC professor Frannie Avery (Ryan), who is currently single, lonely and living with her half-sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). One day, after having a private tutoring session with a student, Frannie goes to a local bar, where on the way to the restroom, she sees an erotic act being performed in the shadows. Of course, she can't resist the urge to keep looking.

Then later, it turns out the woman involved in that very sexual act has been brutally murdered, as Frannie is met by Det. Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) at her apartment with questions concerning if she saw anything suspicious the night at the bar, the last place the woman was seen. One thing leads to another, as Malloy asks Frannie out for a date. They soon become sexually involved.

The movie itself is made up of two portions, neither of which worthy of any intrigue. The one portion includes the serial killer stuff, which is never the more interesting, and in fact, is rather boring and therefore completely devoid of any involvement on behalf of the viewer. The second portion involves the sexually charged affair between Frannie and Malloy, and the setting up of Malloy to possibly be the killer. It's here where the phrase "adding insult to injury" comes to mind.

The bottom line is there is so much talent behind In the Cut, and yet none of the talent could see that what they were making was nothing more than a pure waste of their time, and our time as well. Director Campion has tried to up the ante, so to speak, by frequently igniting the frame with many shots, where things seemed a bit blurred out. Why was this done? Friend, I have absolutely no idea, because it doesn't inject any dose of improvement.

I'd be lying if I said that this wasn't a departure for both Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo, but if I were either of them, I'd be quick to write this one off my resume, and memory, as quick as I could. Ryan, who seems to get much better looking with age, does what she can, but it's hard to do so when you're playing a character whose been a clichéd role in that of a made for video thriller made by Playboy.

For a while, I was wondering if I had yet seen a film that could qualify for worst film of 2003. After watching In the Cut, I needn't wonder anymore.

Video **1/2

The anamorphic transfer of the movie, provided by Columbia Tri Star, is an acceptable, if rather weak, offering. The only thing is, you have to get by those countless blurred out shots in the movie. Plus, a good bit of the movie is shot at night, and the turnout on these shots isn't so as clear and detailed as they should be. Overall, the video quality lies somewhere in the mixed bag.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix works quite well. The sound quality, in the balancing of music, dialogue and other areas, is for the most part quite good. The level of range is present, as well, as the balance between speaker channels is very much strong and alive throughout presentation.

Features ***

In addition to being an Uncut Director's Edition, which includes one up close shot that I know couldn't have made it into the original version, the features include a director and producer commentary track, a featurette, a slang dictionary, and a trailer gallery.

Summary:

Bottom line, you're simply better off watching a repeated viewing of Basic Instinct, because watching In the Cut is like watching a bad rip off. Rarely have so many talented people been involved in such a monumentally horrific and off-putting piece.