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Bams' review of
In The Cut
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Cut

In The Cut (2003)
Rated R; running time 113 minutes
Studio: Screen Gems (Sony)
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Seen at: Eastwood Neighborhood Cinema Group (Lansing, Michigan)
Official site: http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/inthecut/
IMDB site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0199626/combined
Written by: Susanna Moore, Jane Campion (based on the novel by Moore)
Directed by: Jane Campion
Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici, Kevin Bacon, Sharrieff Pugh

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003


(click here to skip to this movie's rating)


In a thread on intense depictions of sex in the movies (we fondly refer to it as "Hot Monkey Love") on 3BC's "Viewer's Voices" ™ webboard, one of our webboard regulars said of the sex in Unfaithful, "I felt like a voyeur...Maybe that's my standard for a good sex scene (vs. a gratuitous one): makes me want to look away instead of stare!" .

That indeed was the conundrum I faced when watching In The Cut: I wasn't sure whether I was in the mood for sex - or a shower to wash the slimy feeling away.


THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
When Angela Sands is gruesomely murdered in a neighborhood bar, Franny Thorstin (Meg Ryan), a potential witness, is questioned by Detectives Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) and Rodriguez (Nick Damici) about what she may have seen. Soon, Malloy's interest in Franny grows deeper (well, as deep as Hot Monkey Love can be said to "grow"). As their intense affair progresses, the once-lonely Franny, a teacher of literature, finds herself a bit less lonely, and a bit less codependent on her equally codependent, love-starved half-sister, Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

But the men in Franny's life begin looking like potential murder suspects. The shoe seems to fit Crazy Schizo Stalker John (Kevin Bacon, who really shouldn't have to keep wearing those flashing "I'M A RED HERRING!" signs in movies like this); Cornelius Webb (Sharrieff Pugh), a student of hers who has very strange views on serial killer John Wayne Gacy; and even the highly sexually-charged Malloy, who coincidentally has the same tattoo on his arm as a man she saw getting a blow job in the bar, the night Angela was murdered.


THE UPSHOT
I'm torn whether to give this one a flashing red for how repulsed I was by much of it (and, initially, how dull it was), or a flashing yellow for it having eventually grown on me. It's the weirdest feeling: part of me could see where director/co-writer Jane Campion was coming from - but another part of me wanted absolutely nothing more to do with watching the movie. In this, I honestly can't say whether In The Cut was just okay, or sorta bad (though I can at least say that it was neither completely awful nor truly brilliant).

Through far too many early minutes of Cut, I sat in sheer boredom, wishing the pain of listening to Ryan's and Leigh's dialogues, would end. I got hung up on how...plain...Meg Ryan looked; how unnaturally off these New Yorkers seemed; how except for the sex, the "thrill" was left out of this Thriller; and ultimately, on how little I cared about anything I was watching. Especially in Ryan's case; the initial shock of seeing her first frumpy, then butt nekkid, quickly gave way to disinterest in what Franny was all about - because Ryan did precious little to make me interested.

Ruffalo and his in-your-face sexuality, though, wouldn't let me get off that easily (heh). Unlike so many fake, save-the-day movie cops, I could easily imagine Malloy as a real NYC cop - and as a round-the-way guy who knew exactly what he was, and was not, capable of. There was a definite sense of authenticity about him that was shared by too few of the other characters. Unfortunately, Ruffalo couldn't hold up this movie by himself - though to her credit, at least Ryan didn't fall back on her patented "look how cute I am!" grin, in lieu of actually acting. Ruffalo's intensity made Ryan seem more like her Courage Under Fire character than any of her ditzy romantic comedy heroines. Which is to say, the interplay between Ruffalo and Ryan, made the intolerable, tolerable.

But Cut's pride over being "100% shot in New York", sacrificing a glitzy movie look for Gritty Shaky Cam, and offering Hot Monkey Love as the means to its end, wasn't sufficient. In a movie full of inexplicable weirdness, underdeveloped storylines, and a silly, grossly telegraphed ending (note to Campion: Kevin Bacon's effectiveness as a "sike!" factor, got played out long ago). Ruffalo's solid turn and Ryan's bold lack of glamour still couldn't make this film much more than an exercise in disaffected voyeurism. In the end, "shower to wash the slimy feeling away", won out.


THE "BLACK FACTOR"    [ObDisclaimer: We Are Not A Monolith]
I try not to "force" a Black Factor where it doesn't belong (though the dearth of BF sections in my reviews lately, has been met with criticism. Damned if you do...and all), but I just can't help but notice this one. A big fella like Cornelius Webb (played by Sharrieff Pugh) wasn't hard to notice; but believe it or not, today's BF isn't about him, per se. I could certainly make a "Why does the Black man always have to be a suspect?" case, but since almost all the men in Cut were suspect, I won't waste my time.

No, my attention was drawn instead to a side issue that writers Susanna Moore and Jane Campion had Franny bring up in passing: Franny's interest/obsession in "Black slang"; and more specifically, Cornelius' observation that Franny's patronizing, paternalistic interest was a dis on Black culture. Not that I think either Moore or Campion had more than a passing clue about where their off-the-cuff mention could lead; but they opened the door, so I'll walk in.

Was it Just Me, or did I hear an "amen!" coming from my dark-hued kinfolk in the audience? Now, before you light-hued folk get your panties in a wad, re-read the part above about Franny's "patronizing, paternalistic interest". There is a vast difference between non-Blacks who are Fascinated By The Negroes!, and those who have a genuine acquaintance with Black Culture(s). But until White folk can understand why Black folk aren't falling all over ourselves with joy when we are treated like anthropological studies, all the slang primers in the world, won't help.


BAMMER'S BOTTOM LINE
Though the movie eventually got my attention, In The Cut balances more heavily toward the flashing red end of the scale. Mark Ruffalo's interesting performance aside, the faux artsy feel of this so-called Thriller can't hide its ultimate flaws: it is devoid of thrills (unless you count the sex), pointless, and as fake as a two-headed nickel.


IN THE CUT:   fred

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL: bams@3blackchicks.com    ICQ: 7760005
http://www.3blackchicks.com/

Use the feedback form below to send your comments to Bams



More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed through 10/31/03):

Bams' reviews:
Brother Bear | In The Cut | Finding Nemo (DVD)

The Diva's reviews:
Brother Bear | Alien: The Director's Cut

Cass' reviews:
Sylvia


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