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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: In The Cut: Unrated



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#1 of 1 Michael Osadciw

Michael Osadciw

    Screenwriter

  • 1,325 posts
  • Join Date: Jun 24 2003

Posted February 22 2004 - 04:53 PM

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IN THE CUT
UNRATED






Studio: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment
Year: 2003

US Rating: Unrated
Canadian Rating: Unrated

Film Length: 119 minutes
Genre: Thriller

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 widescreen enhanced
Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround & French DD2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English, French
CC: Yes

SRP: US$26.95




Release Date: NOW


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In The Cut comes to DVD Unrated bringing actress Meg Ryan in her most controversial role in her career. Adapted from a novel by Suzanna Moore bearing the same title, In The Cut is a raw film based in Manhattan where Ryan’s character, Frannie Avery, accidentally sees two people during their erotic moment in the downstairs of the Red Turtle bar. Shocked at what she sees, she leaves the scene, hopefully unnoticed.

Frannie is confronted by Detective Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) on the way to her apartment and finds she is wanted in the questioning of a girl who was murdered and who’s body parts were found outside of her window. The girl was last seen at the Red Turtle around the same time as her so the detective is looking for a connection. Not knowing of the incident nor of the girl, she takes his card for further contact, as they both seem to have a reluctant eye for each other.

Frannie balances her time as a professor and time with her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in the shady strip club The Baby Doll, while evading her ex-boyfriend John (Kevin Bacon), who is loosing his marbles studying to be a doctor while not having her with him.

Feeling hopeless with men, she is encouraged to meet with Detective Mallow on a date. Disappointingly she finds his personality too forward, grungy, and raw like the streets around her. But she is soon drawn into erotic encounters with him that free her from the sexual restraint she’s feeling as well as disturbing her with his less than romantic methods.

With more female bodies showing up, she has to wonder if she can trust Malloy’s attachment to her, his suspicions of her whereabouts, and the people she knows. She has to determine whether or not sex is worth the violent atmosphere she becomes entailed in with the murder case.

Wonderfully presented, In The Cut is really not the best movie I’ve seen in a long time. Almost contradictory, I know. The film seems to be confused whether it should be focused on the murders or on the sexual depravation of its characters. In fact, the murders seem to play a very small role in the film and only serve to show us how it triggered actions for the characters who have their personal problems to solve. But the way In The Cut is brought on screen with the stunningly solid performances from Ryan, Leigh, Bacon, and Ruffalo makes this a really good thriller to watch. The camera work is done so loosely and handheld for the majority of the film giving it a surreal, yet poetic feel. Its claustrophobic close-ups let you almost read the minds of the actors as they stare off in their thoughts. I couldn’t help to think that I was there with these people because dialogue and emotion was about as gritty and real as it gets between people.

This film isn’t embarrassed to talk about sex or show it either. While one major sex scene in the film was to show Ryan’s character liberated from her sexual dissatisfaction, I felt it held back the progression of the story and slowed the movie down. It does add more development to both Ruffalo and Ryan’s characters and increase the sense of vulnerability and fear throughout the film. This is the unrated cut of the film timing about a minute longer than the theatrical release. Extra scenes include about 30 seconds of fallatio during the crucial witness scene at the beginning of the film, as well as an extended intimate scene with Ryan and Ruffalo.


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Intentionally stylized to look uneasy and unsettling, the image of this film is blurred, sharpened, over contrasted, and unnaturally coloured. The transfer itself is excellent, with little to no compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Just the odd speck of dirt will pass by, but no other film grain is distracting. The image is blurred in different parts of the frame intentionally, but not always, only to direct your attention to certain parts of the screen whether important or not. There is an overall green hue, with both reds and greens being the most prominent colours. Whites can be very bright pushing the limits in very small areas of the screen, and again this is intentional for the surreal look of the film. Black levels are deep, and thankfully the film isn’t too dark. Shadow detail is excellent. Mastered in High Definition, this film is presented in 1.85:1 and is widescreen enhanced. It has a very smooth look, while not the most detailed image; it is very pleasing to watch. Actually, I found it too pleasing because it looked so different from the norm.


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There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding on the DVD and I’m very happy with the recording of the front soundstage. Surround usage is reserved offering a little bit of enhancement for scenes such as the rainy night. But the front channels have excellent sound placement that wraps around the viewer for phantom sidewall and surround imaging. I almost thought my surround speakers were active when they really weren’t, but you have to be sitting in the sweet spot for you to experience these effects. The front soundstage is painted with sound that is never aggressive, but serves to provide a lot of low-level noise such as music in an adjacent room. The sounds are frequency balanced, and the spatiality of the music is effective to carry the emotion of the characters and made me feel like I was stuck in those Manhattan rooms too. Dialogue is nicely recorded and well integrated. I didn’t hear a hint of strain or forwardness in this well-recorded soundtrack.


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This release has a few features added on it including a Director and Producer Commentary with Laurie Parker and Jane Campion. Throughout the film they discuss getting the talent, set, script, and how they shot scenes. Enlightening, but not the most entertaining I’ve heard. We also get a feature called Frannie Avery’s Slang Dictionary (2.34, 4:3, DD2.0) which has a Barry White sounding guy reintroduce slang terms used in the film and define words and phrases such as “house mouse”, “meow”, and “jammies”. On a more interesting note, there is an In The Cut: Behind-the-Scenes (15.41, 16:9, DD2.0) featurette with interviews of director, producer, and the main talent. It’s not a well-done featurette as it’s just different clips of the interviews put together, but in its fashion it gives a little insight to the making of the film. Lastly, yes, we do have the theatrical trailer as well in 16:9 and DD5.1 surround. There should also be a chapter selection insert as well.


Thoughts…

In The Cut is one of those films people will love or dislike; some question the point of making it to begin with and why Meg Ryan would leave her traditional romance comedy role to something more erotic and revealing. My advice is to look beyond this and appreciate the stellar performances of the lead and supporting actors and actresses. It isn’t a perfect story and I think some sections of the film could have been written better; nevertheless it’s well presented in its form. The DVDs are of excellent quality. Whether you choose to watch the rated or the unrated version, both are pretty steamy in this erotic thriller.


Michael Osadciw
04.02.22

Warner Bros. Blu-ray Reviewer
Anchor Bay/Starz Entertainment Blu-ray Reviewer

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