In The Cut

In The Cut

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of In The Cut

Making Of featurette: basically, this is a series of interviews chopped up and distributed between shots of film-in-progress. It may sound same-old, but it's so much better than that. For one thing, these are intelligent people who are not putting on a face for the camera. Meg Ryan is the only one who slips into a self-conscious pose every now and again, because she's done promo gigs ever since When Harry Met Sally and knows what is expected of her. Because a film like In The Cut is outside her remit, she can't be gauche and girlie and get away with it. She has to face tough questioning and, to give her credit, she doesn't flinch, admitting that in her dream life "it felt very familiar," meaning the sex and the violence. That is quite a confession from the oh-so-nice lady who couldn't sleep in Seattle.

Everyone from the producer to the author has their say and there isn't a dull moment. Director Jane Campion is particularly good, because she's honest ("What's love? What's romance? What's the difference?") and committed and not trying to sell herself, or the picture. Jennifer Jason Leigh is astonishingly beautiful and Mark Ruffalo surprising in every way. Meg says, "Mark is so different to the character he plays." You can see this. He is smiling, polite and modest with the crew.

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"I hadn't worked for 10 months," he says. "I thought I would never work again as an actor and when it came to the audition Jane saw this kind of brokenness." The rest, as they say, is blah blah.

The commentary by Campion and co-producer Laurie Parker is a considerable disappointment. Although the Kiwi director admits that this is the first DVD commentary she has done for any of her films, someone should have taken her aside and said that chit-chat with her pal Laurie is not what is required. To be fair, Parker is the worst culprit. She encourages nostalgic gossip and in-jokes about on-set minutiae, when what we want is Campion's insights, since her body of work, from Sweetie to Holy Smoke, has been continuously fascinating.

For much of the time, they sound like characters out of Friends, still giggly after all these years. Campion says, "I'm still in love with Kevin and still scared of him." That's Bacon, by the way, who gives such a sensationally spooky performance in what is little more than a cameo. Parker goes wobbly about Jason Leigh, whom she describes as "the smartest, most adorable actress," while Campion is praising Ruffalo's acting style as "so natural, he can't fake anything."

Their observations on Ryan's professional qualities will enlighten those who can't take her seriously. "Meg hardly puts a foot wrong," Campion says. "She is so emotional as an actor. She can go from nought to tears without any support from anyone whatsoever."

They discuss the sex scenes briefly, but not in depth ("They make everyone feel vunerable and are hard to do for that reason") and Campion has a bash at Disney for sanitising Grimm's Fairy Tales, which is apropos of nothing.

They are generous with praise for cinematographer Dion Beebe, quite rightly, as the camerawork is one of the film's strengths, as well as the Lower Manhattan locations. However, the constant analysis of scenes and storylines begins to sound like a seminar in character motivation, which adds little to what you have already discovered for yourself, watching the movie.

Deleted Scenes: without exception, these are excellent, which demonstrates once again how hard it must be to make choices as an editor and how much good stuff ends up on the cutting room floor. At least, you have the chance of seeing them again on DVD, out of context, but still pertinent examples of atmospheric filmmaking and terrific acting.

Reviewed on: 23 Mar 2004
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In The Cut packshot
A serial killer at large in the strip clubs off Broadway terrorises a collector of language.
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Product Code: P9136DVD

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Making Of featurette; commentary by director Jane Campion and producer Laurie Parker; deleted scenes; US trailer; UK trailer

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