Synopsis: Jane Campion directs the erotic thriller In the Cut, based on the best-selling suspense novel by Susanna Moore. Set in New York City during the summertime, the film is centered on Frannie Avery (Meg Ryan), a middle-class English teacher in the midst of researching a book project about colloquial language. One night she accidentally witnesses a sexual situation involving a suspected killer, which may make her valuable to a police investigation. When Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) comes to her apartment to interview her about a neighborhood murder, she becomes intensely attracted to him. Although they are not sure if they can completely trust each other, Frannie and Malloy start up a passionate love affair. Meanwhile, the killer remains on the loose and the list of suspects includes Malloy's partner, Rodriguez (Nick Damici), and Frannie's student Cornelius (Sharrieff Pugh). Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as Frannie's half-sister, Pauline. In the Cut was shown at the 2003 Toronto Film Festival.
Few directors have attempted to revive the '70s psycho-sexual thriller with the vigor that Jane Campion does in In the Cut, her uneven but adventurous first stab at genre filmmaking. Say what you will about the film -- overheated, grisly, riddled with plot holes -- it's never tentative. Heroine Meg Ryan isn't portrayed as a schoolmarm-in-the-woods type exploring the dangerous and threatening world of big-city sexuality so much as she's a grown woman trying to narrow the sometimes-imperceptible gap between desire and self-respect. Her scenes with Mark Ruffalo play up the threat that lurks just beneath the surface of his character's slouchy machismo, and they're riveting: The two have a strange kind of anti-chemistry that prevents In the Cut from devolving into another cautionary tale about the perils of female lust. The adaptation's stock thriller template -- replete with a ersatz-Silence of the Lambs ending -- just about does in the production in its last act. But even as she provides a tidy resolution, Campion refuses to suggest that all is well in the world of male-female courtship.
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