A true misfire and an unfortunate step in the wrong direction for star Ryan, this one will always remain one of the worst examples of what the erotic thriller genre has to offer.
A detective and an English teacher collide while a serial killer is in close proximity to them both.
A romantic at heart, English teacher Frannie Avery (Meg Ryan in the most unflattering role of her career) pines for real romance, but instead attracts obsessive creeps, including a younger homicide detective named Giovanni (Mark Ruffalo) who is immediately attracted to her when he comes knocking on doors in the neighborhood where a young woman was found beheaded practically on Frannie’s doorstep. Rather than being afraid and stunned by the news, Frannie takes the news in a sort of muted stride – this is lower Manhattan, after all, and she’s apparently used to news of senseless killings. Her half-sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) lives in an apartment above a seedy strip club and has much more sexual experience than Frannie, and she encourages her to go out with the obviously carnally minded detective who asked her out, and within a day Frannie is offering her body and her trust to Giovanni, who brings her to climax in the first try. There’s a catch to their relationship: She is the only witness to the possible killer, whom she witnessed getting a (very explicitly shown) blowjob by the woman who was killed, and Frannie suspects that it might very well be Giovanni who has the exact tattoo that she noticed (but conveniently, she didn’t notice the guy’s face). So why is she walking the razor’s edge and having sex with this guy? Because she’s exactly the type to attract a guy who would stalk, assault, and perhaps even kill her, and yet she walks right into danger when she should be smart enough not to. When other women turn up dead and beheaded (including her half-sister), Frannie finally realizes that she’s close enough to the killer to understand that she’s probably going to be next, but at that point, there’s no one to protect her because she’s thrown all caution to the wind.
Based on a book by Susanna Moore and co-adapted by Jane Campion, who directed, In the Cut is an instantly aggravating and sloppily stylish foray into forced edginess and murky plotting. Ryan, who was still at the top of her game and was more or less still America’s sweetheart, completely chucks it all away with this brazenly unabashed and explicit performance that has her not only taking all her clothes off for ugly and realistic sex scenes, but in engaging in a project that strips her of her beauty and image, and puts her in the middle of an uncommonly trashy approach to a genre that works so much better when handled by filmmakers who understand how to make the material – however lurid it might be – marketable and entertaining. As Campion handles it, the film ends up feeling dirty and depressing, which is not what I’ve ever looked for in an erotic thriller. It’s also way overlong at a full two hours, with scenes (like pointless flashbacks) that have no business being in the movie at all. A true misfire and an unfortunate step in the wrong direction for star Ryan, this one will always remain one of the worst examples of what the erotic thriller genre has to offer.
Mill Creek’s new Blu-ray of In the Cut looks and sounds solid in its presentation, but no special features are included. It only contains the uncut director’s edition, and not the theatrical cut.