The Films That Made Us: In the Cut

For this entry to The Films That Made Us series we've invited Rowan Woods, one half of Misc. Films, to talk about Jane Campion's In the Cut. Misc. Films is a London based programming collective run by Rowan and her business partner, Michael Leader, dedicated to showcasing unreleased, under-screened or under-appreciated films.

Over to you, Rowan...

IN THE CUT (2003)

I first saw In The Cut when I was around 18. I can’t remember the exact circumstances, but I must have rented it from our local Blockbuster or perhaps stumbled across it late at night on Film4. It’s hard to know what drew me to it at the time, but it’s unlikely that I’d sought it out as a committed Jane Campion fan; I’d seen Holy Smoke and my mum was a huge fan of The Piano, but my tastes and viewing habits – although adventurous for a teenager living in the middle of the countryside – were still fairly callow.

Likewise my feminism, while instinctive, was unsophisticated and uninformed by theory beyond a righteous sense of what was fair, and I certainly hadn’t thought much about the politics of representation or encountered the concept of the cinematic gaze. And yet, without being able to identify exactly why, I knew the film spoke to me in quite a profound way.

Even after forgetting the details of the plot, I remembered the impression it made on me. It was certainly the sexiest thing I’d ever seen. The whole thing seeming to exist within a hazy reverie; lazy, languid and a little drunk with desire, speaking a language I didn’t quite understand yet. Throughout my time at university I would ask people if they’d seen a film called In The Cut and, invariably, no-one had.

After graduating and moving to London, I bought a copy of the DVD. Again, the when and wheres now elude me, but buying DVDs on my meagre salary was a rare luxury and I remember being thrilled and triumphant to have tracked down this film that had struck such a chord with me.

The next time I encountered the film was five years later when was I doing a film studies postgrad and it was on the syllabus of a rigorous and serious module on film and feminism. I re-watched and re-read the film in a whole new light and discovered a text that was rich with meaning and symbolism and so bold and uncompromising in the way that it privileged a female perspective within a generic framework that was traditionally so masculine.

Now, thirteen years after I first saw it, it remains one of my favourite films, and has been hugely influential in terms of the way I think about representations of female subjectivity, desire and sexual pleasure on screen. It’s a film that has morphed or mutated over the years and taken on different form and meaning depending on the vantage point from which I viewed it.  Crime thriller, erotic fantasy, feminist tract – to echo Mark Ruffalo’s brazen barroom proposition, it can be whatever you want it to be…


Curzon Cinemas, in partnership with Misc. Films, presents a special screening of Jane Campion's In the Cut at Curzon Soho, Friday 2nd June at 6.25pm. Jane Campion joins us after the screening for a live Q&A. Tickets are available from the Curzon website now. 

This piece is part of our ongoing series The Films That Made Us. Follow us on twitterFacebook and Instagram to discover more!

Ryan Hewitt