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In The Cut

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: In The Cut

Starring: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Jane Campion
Rated: R
RunTime: 119 Minutes
Release Date: October 2003
Genres: Drama, Romance

*Also starring: Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici, Sharrieff Pugh, Frank Harts

Review by Susan Granger
1½ stars out of 4

In this cinematic adaptation of Susanna Moore's controversial best-seller, Jane Campion ("The Piano") attempts to craft a torrid psychological suspense thriller but ultimately fails.

Opening with strains of "Que Sera Sera" as a gentle "petal storm" covers Manhattan's Greenwich Village with flowers, it revolves around Frannie Avery (Meg Ryan), a romance-wary creative writing teacher who lusts for NYPD Detective Michael Malloy (Mark Ruffalo). With his partner (Nick Damici), he's investigating a grisly neighborhood homicide. Frannie's life is fraught with complications - from her lonely half-sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to an intense student (Sharrieff Pugh) to a former-suitor-turned-stalker (Kevin Bacon) - but realizing that there's a serial killer on the lose, hiding in one murky doorway or another, really turns her on.

Miraculously, Meg Ryan manages to look downright dowdy. Since she physically strips to the buff on numerous occasions, she seems to envelop herself in an unflattering mousy brown wig. Dispensing with any trademark perkiness, her portrayal is raw, honest and fearless, if not convincing. (Nicole Kidman's credited as producer and it's a shame she didn't play the part.) In the same vein, Mark Ruffalo valiantly tries to look dangerously hunky - to no avail. Both their characters are so two-dimensional and so seriously underwritten as to lack credibility. Director Jane Campion's symbolic and atmospheric visuality is, as always, effective - with credit to "Chicago" cinematographer Dion Beebe and production designer David Brisbin - but her slow pacing and lack of steamy suspense are frustrating and self-defeating. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "In the Cut" is a kinky, sordid 3, bordering on simply ludicrous.

Copyright 2003 Susan Granger

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