In The Cut

Review Date:
Director: Jane Campion
Writer: Jane Campion, Susanna Moore
Producers: Laurie Parker, Nicole Kidman
Meg Ryan as Frannie, Mark Ruffalo as Malloy, Jennifer Jason Leigh as Pauline
A teacher is questioned about a gruesome murder in her neighborhood. She doesn’t know much about it, but did see a guy getting blown in the backroom of a bar by a woman who, as it turns out, might be the victim herself. A local cop investigates the teacher, eats her ass and falls for her. As the story unfolds, we meet all kinds of weirdos and it’s up to us to figure out who the killer might be. Is it the teacher? Is it her student, her ex-boyfriend, her ass, the cop, my ex-girlfriend, the screenwriters…? You decide! Meg Ryan naked…ensues.
A pretentious murder mystery that isn’t so much about a murder or a mystery, as it is about the style in which it is shot, the feelings of vulnerability and mistrust in everyone, the confused state of mind in which we all find ourselves from time to time, the acute nature of our senses and…”the mustache”, better known as the great Mark Ruffalo. This film will likely not thrill, excite or entertain most in the typical of ways, but if originality is your bag, if actors topping their game and getting nekkid for the “art of it” is what you’re craving, then line up for this one because it’s got “artsy fartsy” written all over it (ask anyone who was hightailing it out of our screening about that) I usually can’t stand the over-the-top, you-figure-out-what-it-all-means type of arty flicks like one of my most hated films from earlier this year, MORVERN CALLAR, but this film was different. For one, it actually had a half-decent mystery at its core and despite not really being about the murder, it kept me intrigued nonetheless. For two, color me an asshole, but I’ve been a huge fan of actor Mark Ruffalo since I first saw him in YOU CAN COUNT ON ME and the crush hasn’t seceded since. The man oozes something that just makes you want to like him and in the case of his character and his mustache in this film…it was just right. Thirdly, was that Meg Ryan in this movie or a solid actress? Kudos to “Sally Albright” for taking on a role that did not only ask that she masturbate every now and again, but that she also look awful, act depressed and fuck like a banshee (kinda like me, expect for the “fucking like a banshee” part). If you notice Ryan’s trademark smile in even one scene of this entire movie…please point it out to me. She’s a trooper all the way and her character’s sense of despair came through loud and clear.

Last, but definitely not least, I actually “got” something more out of this film than its seemingly circular showcasing of dysfunctional people in dead-end situations. What I got was what most of us go through in the beginning stages of any relationship and that’s the issue of trust. Can you ever really trust someone that you care about once they’ve given you reason not to? Is it easier for you to forgive and get along with acquaintances and people that you don’t really care about, because you don’t have much invested in them in the first place? Does one’s vulnerability prevent one from seeing the most obvious thing that everyone else in the world sees right in front of them? Alright, so I’m sounding about as pretentious as Maya Angelou here, but the point is: I connected to this movie’s metaphors and even though some of it was a little too “out there” (the poetry stuff), I nonetheless appreciated the film’s ballsy attempt at slabbing some weight behind its otherwise, clichéd murder mystery vibe. Having said that, most people will surely not leave this film talking about how vulnerable the character was or how love is difficult and trust must be earned, etc and so forth, but rather, 1) the film’s style, which admittedly, also turned me a little off at times, with the camera wandering around like nobody’s business and constant blurriness and 2) the film’s sexual content, which despite all of the “talk” beforehand, is definitely more pronounced than in your everyday dramas (we even get see Ruffalo willie), but nothing compared to the hype that I’d heard.

I say that because the sex in the film isn’t really “sexy” as much as it’s “about something”. When a woman masturbates here, she isn’t doing it for “fun”…she’s doing it to escape the pain. Ironically, I “escape” my pain about 6-8 times every day. In the end, I can guarantee you that this is not the kind of movie that’s going to make anyone any money anytime soon. It moves slowly, it’s got a unique style, features characters that are grim and frumpy in an environment that is frumpy and grim and doesn’t necessarily “play fair” when it comes to its lead murder mystery, but I dug it nonetheless. I got into its characters, I traveled beneath the surface, I enjoyed its sex scenes and use of ambient sounds/silence to create moments, loved its stylish touches (the B&W flashbacks, its use of music, etc…) and appreciated all of the acting performances, especially Meg Ryan who really (I can’t believe I’m actually gonna say this but…) “bares it all” here. Sorry. Seriously though, she delivers in spades. Good for you, girlfriend…don’t let Kidman take all the good roles. As for Ruffalo…call me, dude…let’s grab a few beers.

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

In The Cut



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