Thursday, January 11, 2007

In the Cut

Jane Campion's In the Cut was definitely the most sexual and violent of all the films we have watched so far, and if I hadn't known it was written and directed by a woman, I would never have thought so. I think that the portrayal of sex was seen more from a male point of view. Women were seen primarily as sex objects, and this was shown by the men frequently engaging in conversations in which they discuss sex in very vulgar ways. Sex is seen in a very unromantic way, and so it seems much more like a masculine point of view. The men in the film are thus portrayed in a negative way, because all of them are misogynistic and horny, with sex as the one thing on their mind. However, this is not presented in the feminist "men are pigs" kind of way, but rather is shown as just the way men are. The portrayal of women is not much better. All of them are extremely passive. Franny's sister is pretty much clueless, and seems to have the physicality of sex and the emotion of love to be confused with each other. The one romantic image in the movie, about Franny's parents, is an obvious fantasy that exists in a faraway time, and is ruined by her own violent imaginings. It was difficult to figure out Franny's character. She was obviously sad and lonely, but it was difficult to figure out her motivations for much of the film - this was probably done to add to the suspense. I didn't really see a point to the movie, other than it being a thriller. It seemed to somehow excuse men for their acts of violence, as if they were lashing out against the seductive hold that women have on them. This was shown by Molloy talking about the older woman who seduced him when he was a young teen, Kevin Bacon's character talking about how his mother dressed him in girl's clothes, and most blatantly by Cornelius defending John Wayne Gacy, saying that killers are "victims of desire."

Campion did a good job of creating a dark, urban world of suspense for the film. Most of the scenes were darkly lit or bathed in a garish, yellowish light, which gave the scenes a sense of claustrophobia. The only bright color in the film was red, which popped up frequently and seemed symbolize sex, violence, or both. The lighthouse was red and was an obvious phallic symbol, so it seems that it represented the inherently sexual and violent nature of males. There were also many blurry shots in the film or the camera would be extremely close to the characters so that they were indistinguishable, both of which gave a more sexual feel to these scenes. This film and The Piano left me wondering about how Jane Campion portrays love interests. In this film Franny and Molloy's relationship mostly consisted of the physical, and he was threatening throughout most of the film. I found him pretty creepy initially, which was what I also thought of Baines. Campion seems to find something alluring about threatening men, and she seems to see sex as a way for men and women to connect emotionally. I found this film pretty disturbing because its portrayal of both males and females was fairly negative, and although I admire Campion for breaking gender stereotypes, I find her lack of romance (or unconventional view of it) very dark.


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