'In the Cut': Danger lurks in Campion's dark, murky world of sexuality
Seattle Times movie critic
Make no mistake: Although it stars Meg Ryan, this is not a "Meg Ryan movie," and audience members who attend because they've enjoyed the perky actress's previous work may be horrified by what they see here. And Ryan's performance, though an impressive technical achievement, really isn't the reason to see the film. As Frannie, a lonely teacher and writer, Ryan has flattened herself out (like the limp shag hairdo she wears), drawn out her voice into a line, and made her usually lilting manner clomping and glum.
Based on the 1996 novel by Susanna Moore (who co-wrote the screenplay with Campion), "In the Cut" follows Frannie as she becomes sexually involved with a detective, Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), investigating a series of brutal murders in her neighborhood. Malloy is an enigmatic figure — a film noir staple — who may or may not be involved in the murders, and Frannie is simultaneously drawn to and repelled by him. Sex with him draws her into another world, erotic and intoxicating; walking the sidewalks with him takes her into yet another, far less appealing. The movie is thick with red herrings and double meanings; we're always sliding on the ice depicted in the film's puzzling (but beautiful) sepia title sequence, never quite getting our footing.
The two share an uncanny physical resemblance, and a place on the edge of an emotional cliff. Something haunts these two, as they cling to each other as if for shelter.
Pauline, so vulnerable she can barely choke words out, is in love with a man indifferent to her. "You're a poet of love," Frannie consoles her.
Poetry and language pervade the film; particularly a prophetic line Frannie reads on a subway wall: "I woke to find myself in a dark wood, for I had wandered from the straight path." But it's not the woods that are dangerous — a scene outside the city, in a glade, is the only one not infused with those throbbing splashes of red. Campion and director of photography Dion Beebe have created a dark, down-the-rabbit-hole world, sparkling with raindrops and blue light, laced with red roses and smeared with blood. It's not for everyone, but I couldn't take my eyes away.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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