A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie is very close to an NC-17. It has exceptionally explicit sexual references and situations and extremely strong language, including racist and homophobic comments. There's nudity, including scenes in a strip bar. The movie also has very grisly images including bloody body parts and blood-drenched rooms. Characters are killed. The movie includes a lot of smoking and drinking, including drunkenness.
What's the story?
IN THE CUT centers on Franny (Meg Ryan), an English professor who is deeply moved by words. She drinks in the scraps of poetry on the subway placards. She writes down the latest slang terms she hears from her students. And when a police detective (Mark Ruffalo) comes to ask whether she saw anything on the night of a murder, she writes down a word he used to describe the body: "disarticulated." But she holds her own words in, communicating very little to anyone except for her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Franny and the detective begin an intensely charged affair, but they know very little about each other, and the very intensity in the midst of the investigation of a series of brutal murders makes them pull away from each other. Franny even begins to wonder whether the detective may be the killer. Threats loom all around her, including a needy ex-boyfriend (Kevin Bacon) and a student (Sharrieff Pugh) who seems interested in a much closer relationship.
Is it any good?
Meg Ryan sheds more than her clothes in this would-be steamy thriller. She sheds her twinkle. We don't get the nose-wrinkling smile. No adorable befuddlement. No irresistible misting of the eyes. Unfortunately, that leaves her -- and us -- with not much of a performance. And unfortunately the script leaves us with not much of a movie.
Director Jane Campion uses arty tricks like a hand-held camera and a rust-colored cast to the settings to try to make the movie about something deeper, perhaps dreamlike, or nightmarish. But it just feels incoherent. The verbal and physical encounters that are supposed to be dark and sexy are just flat. Ryan can handle dramatic roles, as she showed in When a Man Loves a Woman and Flesh and Bone. But she does not have enough to work with in the affectless Franny. The story itself is just weak, with an especially dopey ending that seems grafted on from another movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
- In theaters: October 22, 2003
- On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2004
- Cast: Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mark Ruffalo, Meg Ryan
- Director: Jane Campion
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexuality including explicit dialogue, nudity, graphic crime scenes and language
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.