Sunday, September 9, 2018

In the Cut

Movie Name: In the Cut
Year of Release: 2003
Director: Jane Campion
Starring: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici, Kevin Bacon, Patrice O'Neal
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
After the muted response to the underrated "Holy Smoke", celebrated director Jane Campion premiered "In the Cut" in 2003, at the Toronto Film Festival. The film follows the story of Frannie Avery, a high school teacher, who may have witnessed a murder, and who becomes amorously involved with the main detective running the investigation. Frannie is a quiet and somewhat shy woman, close to her much more outgoing and extroverted sister Pauline, and they both find themselves wrapped in this potentially fatal investigation. While Frannie's involvement with Detective Malloy deepens, so do her fears that he may actually be the man responsible for the killings that are occurring in the city, and that are getting progressively closer to her.
Jane Campion is one of my favorite filmmakers currently working. She has a distinct point of view, one where her universe is inhabited by women who are at times at odds with a patriarchal society that does not understand or actually fears their point of view (and their sexuality). "In the Cut" is a perfect example of that - Jane Campion makes Frannie a woman who despite her experience in life, is opening herself to a new partner, and a potentially harrowing experience, but who wants to do it on her own terms. She's a woman finding her voice, her wants, desires, but in the context of a thriller, where a dangerous individual is murdering women (for all intended purposes, castrating the emergence of their voices). It's a film that in a way, shifts the paradigm of the erotic thrillers of the mid 90s (jumpstarted by Paul Verhoeven's "Basic Instinct" in 1992), and places the entire focus on the woman who potentially witnessed it all, and how that becomes the essence of the film. The relationship between these two disparate individuals, that connect, without much knowledge of who they are, but who try to make that connection flourish and work. The film does have its shortcomings, in the sense that the characters are not fully realized, and feel a bit under-nourished, but it's a beautifully shot film by Dion Beebe, featuring three accomplished actors in the central roles, namely Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Jason Leigh. For Meg Ryan this film was a change of pace (her part was originally intended for Nicole Kidman), whereas for both Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Jason Leigh, this cemented their continuous interest in diverse and richly layered parts. An underrated film from a great director and artist.