Following the brutal murder of a young woman in her neighborhood, a self-determined NYU professor dares to test the limits of her own safety by propelling herself into an impossibly risky sexual liaison with a detective. As the affair increasingly pushes the limits of sexuality, she grows wary about the motives of every male with whom she has contact--including the detective.
Jane Campion ("The Piano," "Holy Smoke," "The Portrait of a Lady") is an inveterate navigator in the murkier zones of female sexuality, and "In The Cut," adapted from Susanna Moore's novel, plots a hazardous nexus of dread, danger and desire. The camera, as it surveys the grimy streets and cramped apartments of lower Manhattan, trembles as if it were running a fever, and Dion Beebe's cinematography is jumpy and bleary-eyed. Meg Ryan, who has darkened her hair and suppressed all of her characteristic perkiness, plays Frannie, a writing teacher whose feverish love affair with a homicide detective (Mark Ruffalo) involves her in the search for a serial killer. The movie's association of female sexuality with mortal risk is potentially interesting, but the cooked-up, conventional serial killer plot smothers its suggestive nuances and makes the psychology of the two main characters, which might have been provocatively mysterious, seem as deliberately smudged as the film's visual style. — A. O. Scott
2003-10-22 | A. O. Scott | Read the New York Times Review of In the Cut