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.
by Michael Hastings review