In The Cut

BB.5

(out of 5)


plays a dowdy English professor who comes home to her grungy Manhattan apartment to find a detective () waiting in her stairwell who tells her that a woman was murdered in her area and pieces of her body were found in Ryan’s garden. Ryan (who achieves dowdiness through bangs and sandals) is instantly attracted to the cruel but sexy cop, who in turn engages in a highly erotic affair with her that threatens to turn sour when she begins to suspect that he’s not telling her the whole truth about himself or the case. Jane Campion does her usual terrific job of enhancing the storytelling with visual splendour, but here her overly photographed crime thriller seems to be using prettiness to hide a lack of substance. While it is gratifying to note that an art-house filmmaker can direct a genre picture without selling out (unlike, say, Bruce Beresford) by avoiding cliches such as high-speed chases or morally admirable uber-victims in the women’s roles, she does hinder this film’s originality by having the oh-so-obvious trademark of red herrings popping up everywhere. Trying desperately to be a character study, this film features a not too fascinating lead character whose journey into psychosexual territory takes her nowhere particularly interesting. Ruffalo is terrific as the guy you want to hate but love to want, and he and Ryan muster some pretty good chemistry, but the film they’re in is too oppressively dark and sometimes for no particular reason. Audiences will certainly be shocked to see America’s sweetheart in such a graphic role, but the real surprise is how very personal a performance she gives as opposed to how revealing she gets about herself (how surprising is it that Meg Ryan has sex?) This woman has been making perfectly-timed comedy look easy for years, so doing a hum-drum dramatic role certainly is no big deal for her as an actor. Originally meant to star Nicole Kidman, who had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts but remained on the project as producer.


Pathe Productions, Pathé Pictures International, Red Turtle

Australia/USA/United Kingdom, 2003

Directed by

Screenplay by Jane Campion, , additional writer , based on the novel by Susanna Moore

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Toronto International Film Festival 2003

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