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"In the Cut"

Directed by Jane Campion.
Written by Jane Campion and Susanna Moore.  Based on the novel by Moore. 
Starring Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo.
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  11/03 


As the final scene ended and the lights started to come up in my theater following a matinee of “In the Cut”, the following phrases were heard from paid participants:

  • “Ugh...horrible.”

  • “Man, that was really bad.”

  • “I can’t believe how bad that was.”

  • “BOOOOO!”

That last one was me.  Even though I went to the movie alone, I have a habit of booing bad films just to amuse myself, and “In the Cut” was a major disappointment.  In fact, because of two lines of dialogue and Kevin Bacon’s uncredited performance, this film avoids Hard Vice status...but man, was it close.  The film follows an English teacher (Meg Ryan) that becomes involved in a murder mystery after police, led by Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), suspect that she may know more about the hacked-up victim found in her apartment’s back yard.  Malloy takes up a personal interest in the teacher as well, plus we get to follow the relationship between the prof and one of her students (Sherrieff Pugh) and her half-sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Coming into this film, I had been hearing a lot about the “steamy, erotic” sex scenes between the two leads, so imagine my surprise as I watched three very boring, very unsatisfying sex scenes take place.  Seriously, I encountered zero heat as I watched those sequences, and it laid further proof to the notion that American films are completely useless when it comes to sensuality.  I still can’t figure out if “In the Cut” missed the cut because of the two people performing, or because the scenes were badly shot, or maybe because Ruffalo’s cop character is such a bastard as he mentally roughs up the teacher in their first encounter.  Gag.  The film is based on the book of the same name; writer Susanna Moore and director Jane Campion (“The Piano”) have come up with what feels like a number of scenes that are just sort of tossed into the film and we are forced to make sense of them.  So, there are scenes where the teacher is talking to her half-sister (oh, did I mention Pauline is a stripper??) about virtual masturbation...and, I’m thinking “Didn’t that teacher just hear that a woman was mutilated in her back yard?”  The pool of murder suspects is also quite shallow, since we only have about five characters in the whole movie.  Suspense, we have so little of you!

Somebody on this production also thought it would be “artistic” to always make sure that three-fourths of each shot is out of focus; this became so annoying that I kept cleaning my glasses thinking (hoping?) that it was just me...but, sadly, it’s the stupid fucking filmmaker’s fault.  Clichés became so bad at one point that by the time Malloy—an Italian-American New York City cop—informs us that he hates Jews, “coloreds”, and gays, I had already guessed right on almost all of my hunches.  But, a late-in-the-film line about oral sex and Bacon’s hilariously whacked-out part as a disgruntled soap star save “In the Cut” from total dogshit status.

Rating:  Rental


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09