Thursday, January 11, 2007

In the Cut- the role of sexuality in the film

In the Cut, another Jane Champion film is a dark and erotic tale of one woman’s descent into the violent and sexual underbelly of New York City. Frannie Avery is a reclusive middle aged English professor living in New York City, looking for inspiration in a life of quiet desperation and unhappiness. Sexuality, and sex itself plays a huge role in this film. Sex is first presented to Frannie in the back room of The Red Turtle where she witnesses a tattooed man receiving a blow job. This scene, (in which a penis is shown in detail) is bathed in a dark red light, which obscures the identity of both the man and the woman. Initially, Frannie is shocked by this sight but soon she is transfixed and unable to look away. This scene has many functions, one of them being the awakening of Frannie’s latent sexuality. Also, it provides a stark contrast to the rest of the sex scenes in the film, which reveal Frannie receiving sexual pleasure. The man in this situation is clearly in a position of power, perhaps a foreshadowing to the conclusion of the film where he is revealed as the serial killer. Malloy’s partner enjoys sexual and extremely violent relations with women. Here is another instance in the film where the line between sex and violence is blurred. Sexuality is also expressed from the perspective of Pauline, Frannie’s promiscuous step sister, who through an affair with a married man has become somewhat of a stalker. Pauline is quite liberal with her sexuality, as shown by her makeup and the way she dresses in a form fitting red dress. Frannie’s makeup and costume in contrast are much more drab and subdued, consisting of the color brown. When Frannie begins her sexual relationship with detective Malloy, she appears to be the one getting satisfied, which could be traced back to the fact that this film is directed by a woman. Indeed, in the last sex scene between Frannie and Malloy, she gets off while he is hand cuffed to the radiator. This shows how even the female character has taken up violence. This sex scene, as well as the many other sex scenes throughout the film is filmed with a red light. Red of course carries very strong connotations of anger, violence (blood), lust, and even love. Frannie’s dress in the radiator scene is even a sexy red and matches her lipstick and heels. This provocative outfit is also the one she is wearing when the actual killer takes her to the lighthouse. The lighthouse is also red and very symbolic. Lighthouses bring light and hope to those in the dark (Frannie). They show lost ones the way home and bring them back. Indeed, Frannie is able to save herself (a sign of an empowered woman) and find her way home.


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