In the Cut (1/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley

 One dead giveaway of vacuous writers and directors is the number of times they use the “F” word.  Using this as a criterion, Writer-Director Jane Campion and writer Susan Moore are vacuity personified.  It seems as if every other word in In the Cut is the “F” word.

 That’s bad enough.  But even worse is the way they degrade women.  Men, in this case Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) and his partner Detective Rodriquez (Nick Damici), talk their gutter language around women, showing them not even a modicum of respect. Apparently Campion wants men to forget about putting on good manners when they’re around women and just act like some low class men do when they’re out with their buddies at a strip bar.  And to designate this as “low class” is giving this film more than it deserves.

 There’s kind of a plot. Frannie (Meg Ryan) is an English teacher who has a sister who lives above a strip bar.  She’s as unhappy as she can be.  A woman is killed and maimed outside Frannie’s window and Detectives Malloy and Rodriquez are assigned to investigate.  Malloy apparently is attracted to Frannie, so he pursues her and they strike up a relationship. Ostensibly this is a murder mystery. In fact, it’s just soft-core porn with a plot that’s merely an excuse to show as many disgusting scenes as they can fit in.

 Ryan parades around nude much of the time.  Ruffalo displays frontal nudity.  They perform innumerable varied unerotic sex acts on one another, and little is left to the imagination.  Their language is constantly profane.  We see many body parts. I can’t imagine the purpose for making such a deplorable movie. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend one hour fifty-eight minutes sitting through this slime. The real tipoff on Director Campion is that with all the nudity and sex, it’s not even the slightest bit erotic.  There’s no tenderness or affection between Frannie and Malloy. What Frannie and Malloy do is just raw sex and it’s not titillating to watch. When they’re together it’s like watching a hooker and her john.

 To its discredit it encourages rough sex. At one point while buck-naked Frannie’s sitting astride Malloy. He’s not getting the pleasure he wants, so he instructs her to hit him.  She complies with a roundhouse right. He responds with a smack of his own, and while they’re belting each other I guess they both achieve their orgasms. Still want to see this? Read on.

 This film is on such a low level of intellect that Campion can’t set up any kind of reason for a romance between Frannie and Malloy. They never have an intelligent conversation.  They just use the “F” word all the time. It’s “f’ing” this and “f’ing” that. Every minute of every hour.

 If that weren’t enough, we see graphic shots of severed body parts, although the most obscene mutilation we see in this film is what Ryan does to her career and reputation. Then, mercifully, we get to the end, the final denouement. But if you blink, you’ll miss the climax. It’s over in a trice.

 One thing this movie lacks is suspense, even though Frannie is apparently the dumbest woman in creation, constantly putting herself in jeopardy, walking dangerous streets at night alone, getting into cars with people she barely knows. How did she survive this long?

 When you consider that the main movers of this are women, you wonder about their slant because you’ll never see a more misogynistic film. I’ve seen films with feminist slants, but this one is beyond prior bounds. These female filmmakers want to take away from women all the respect that good men give them. How? One way is by normalizing the vulgar language that Malloy and Rodriquez use to and around Frannie, by having Frannie accept it, respond in kind, and become attracted to Malloy, who is nothing more than a rude, licentious, bum. This film debases women in general and Ryan specifically.

 The worst part of this film is that Meg Ryan is displaying to the world what little respect she has for her character, her reputation, and her loyal audience who has grown to love the bright, beautiful characters she has generally played. She cheapens herself in this film. This isn’t acting. It’s an act of personal devastation.

 Equally disappointing is the cinematography by Dion Beebe, which I can only describe as “film school chic.” Lots of hand held cameras, low, dark lighting, and unfocused shots.  To give one example, Frannie’s talking to her sister and they both stand up and what we see are unfocused chests and waists, like you were videotaping two women talking and they suddenly got up when you were unprepared for the move. It’s oh, so avant-garde, and oh, so self-congratulatory. Given the script and the plot, it wouldn’t surprise me if Director Campion were the only one accountable, but Dion Beebe is a respected cinematographer, responsible for films like Chicago. Beebe should know better, but, then, so should Ryan.

 So, in a nutshell, this is a Fescennine film with little plot, a poorly written, vulgar script, lots of unerotic nudity and raw sex acts, vile shots of dismembered body parts, disrespect for women, and no reason for being except to watch a heretofore beloved actress attempt to commit career suicide. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch Meg Ryan again without thinking of this obscenity.

 October 31, 2003

 The End