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In the Cut

In the Cut on DVD

When one sees the phrases “Uncut Director’s Edition” and “Unrated Version,” one thinks they’re going to get some gratuitous titillation.

What one may not be aware of is the fact that the entire movie appears to have been written around the idea of gratuitous T & A. Kind of like a porno. Except without the perpetual T & A to keep you interested.

Meg Ryan plays Frannie Avery, an English professor who happens to stumble on a man being Lewinskied in a dark corner of a bar. After the girl performing the deed turns up dead, Frannie is questioned by Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo), who may or may not have had something to do with the whole thing. He pulls Frannie into a “liberating but disturbing” erotic encounter that could take her life away just as it’s giving her a chance to start over.

In the Cut is a vehicle for Meg Ryan to show off some full frontal nudity. That’s it. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, generally, except that you have to sit through nearly two hours of crap in order to get the good stuff. Kind of like a porno. Except there’s much, much less good stuff - and a porno doesn't pretend to be art (or not usually, with a straight face, anyway).

The movie is not well written, and even though the performances are pretty good, they can’t save an otherwise bad, bad movie. In fact, it’s a really bad movie even by really bad movie standards.

The fact that everything is completely clichéd is bad enough. You can tell exactly who’s going to die (and probably when); you can tell who’s going to blame whom (and when); every character is straight out of a better film in the genre; and there’s a subplot involving Kevin Bacon that has to be one of the most superfluous in Hollywood history.

Even the most intricate, important details don’t make sense. When Frannie witnesses the Lewinsky, it’s so dark and she’s so far away that she can’t make out the man’s face. Yet for some reason, she has no trouble making out a tiny black tattoo on the man’s wrist, even though it’s facing away from her the whole time. But maybe we’re just not supposed to ask questions.

If you’ve always wanted to see Meg Ryan naked, this is your chance. If you want to see it badly enough to sit through this utter waste of time, feel free. But you’ll probably be able to catch it on late night cable TV soon enough.

Whether or not the unrated, uncut version is the one that was shown in theatres, we’re not sure (possibly because the movie came and went before we even had a chance to realize it was there). Nonetheless, it is the version on the DVD, which is about as formulaic as the movie itself.

The picture is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and is average all the way. It’s a very dark movie with minimal color, but overall detail is pretty good. There are a few shots in which you can see quite a bit of grain, although it looks like they tried to pick some darker scenes in hopes that we wouldn’t notice. Skin tones are good, fortunately, but there is a bit of halo effect present in several scenes as well.

Audio is, apparently, Dolby Digital 5.1, but it’s pretty poor quality. It’s completely restricted to the front channels (we didn’t notice a single ounce of surround use), and quite often the dialogue is muffled badly enough that you have to rewind the movie and listen again, more closely (and trust us, this isn’t the kind of movie you want to have to go back and watch again). Sound effects are a bit better, using all three front speakers, while the score is more in the background and seems to use the center channel exclusively.

Director Jane Campion and producer Laurie Parker provide an audio commentary for the film (and I’ll be honest: I skipped it because I didn’t want to waste two more hours of my life on this tripe), and there are two short featurettes, one a making-of and the other a “Slang Dictionary,” which makes more sense once you’ve seen the film.

In the Cut, from Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment
119 minutes that you’ll never get back, anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) 16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Damici, Sharrieff Pugh
Produced by Laurie Parker, Nicole Kidman
Screenplay by Jane Campion and Susanna Moore, Directed by Jane Campion


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