In The Cut Jane Campion

In The CutJane Campion
Finally available for mass North American consumption (unless, of course, prudish Blockbuster is your source for video rentals) is the unrated, more explicit version of Jane Campion's take on the sexual thriller. In the Cut stars Meg Ryan as a dazed and confused English professor who gets swept up in an erotic affair with a cop (Mark Ruffalo) investigating a series of single white female murders in lower Manhattan. The film is part dark and grisly Seven-like whodunit and part Hollywood soft-core porn, à la Showgirls or 9 1/2 Weeks. The most notable thing about the film when it was released was Meg Ryan's performance. The blue-eyed darling of the family-friendly romantic comedy gets down, dirty and full-frontally nekkid. The unrated version — which features less than a minute of additional sexually explicit material, including an early blowjob scene (not involving Ryan) and a few more seconds in the first erotic encounter between Ryan and Ruffalo — is only slightly more risqué. In the Cut may be more relevant as a talking point about how far Hollywood is willing to push the limits of morality in the post-Janet Jackson nipple-baring world than it is as a film. Campion obviously set out to craft an interesting movie but she never seems comfortable with the genre. It's easy to figure out early on who the killer is despite attempts to introduce no fewer than four suspects. It's almost like she was trying to make an anti-establishment art-house movie but ends up caving to murder mystery conventions. The film's strongest scenes are those between Ryan and Ruffalo. The full-length commentary track between the director and producer reveals more about what Campion intended than what she actually accomplished. When a film needs that much explaining, there has to be something wrong. Plus: Making of featurette, slang dictionary. (Columbia/Sony)