This movie looks suitably grungy and has some good performances but the whole is less than its parts. The story is based on Susanna Moore’s novel of the same name. Curiously, one of the main problems is the script which Moore co-wrote. Not only has the story been changed to satisfy Hollywood needs, it all falls a bit flat and is not wholly believable. Campion, it seems, could not decide whether this is a genre thriller or a psychological study. This directorial dithering is made even worse by obvious red herrings and gratuitous family flashbacks, in sepia tonings no less.

Apparently Campion was trying to emulate Alan Pakula’s superb film Klute. But Campion would have done better being herself. And Meg Ryan is no Jane Fonda. Indeed, part of the selling point of In The Cut has been that Ryan plays a bad girl for a change in the role which at one stage had been Nicole Kidman’s. I suspect Kidman would have done a better job. Ryan plays a New York writing professor, Frannie Thorstin, drawn to the macho detective James Malloy (Mark Ruffalo) who is investigating a murder of a beautiful young woman. Frannie is all over the place and needed, paradoxically, more energy than Ryan delivers to nail the role.

That said, Mark Ruffalo makes a good tough guy, and Jennifer Jason Leigh gives one of her best performances as Frannie’s half-sister, Pauline, letting go of some of her trademark brittleness in rendering the fragility of this character.

The much touted violence is there but Campion’s eye is curiously detached from this disarticulation, though that is also a blessing because it is gruesome, be warned. The even more highly touted sex is there, naked and raw but not terribly attractive. I’m not sure this time we’d want what Meg’s having. It’s not a bad film by any means, it is worth seeing, but it just could have been much better.

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