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For Frannie, a New York City writer raised on shattered romantic fairy tales and baffled by modern male-female relationships, her passion has felt safer to be about words rather than men. But now, an unexpectedly intriguing connection with a police detective is about to take her on a journey that will push all of her once carefully-controlled boundaries and leave her in mortal danger.

"The story of Frannie is an investigation not just into a crime but into how men and women behave," says Meg Ryan, who portrays the tough and witty yet deeply conflicted university professor. Ryan was drawn to the character – antithetical to the romantic and comedic roles she is best known for – because she saw Frannie as an unusually complex woman whose outward persona turns out to be a mask that hides a profound inner vulnerability.

"Frannie is someone who the world has disappointed, who love has disappointed, who has grown smaller and smaller inside," Ryan continues. "But with Detective Malloy, for the first time, she finds herself surprised and even scared of the things he brings out in her. In that sense, IN THE CUT is not just a murder mystery, but a story of two people who become utterly exposed to one another."

For Academy Award® nominated director Jane Campion, the character of Frannie was the perfect jumping-off point for a psychological thriller that probes the mercurial nature of desire, exploring all at once its many sides from the idealistic fairy tale to the darkly terrifying to the thrillingly redemptive as passion evolves into the complexity of love. Frannie reminded Campion of Bree Daniels, the hard-edged prostitute at the center of Alan J. Pakula's classic American detective film turned love story, Klute – but a heightened 21st century perspective.

"I saw IN THE CUT as a modern love story that is also a mystery," she says. "It explores the contemporary mythology of love and sex and the effort at union with another person, and it does so amidst all the chaos and energy of the modern city. Frannie is dealing with problems I think many people in today's cities face: issues of sexuality and shame, of lust and fear – you know, the things that just don't seem to behave in any orderly way. These are the things that interest me."

Campion first became fascinated by Frannie after reading the best-seller In the Cut, written by Susanna Moore. The novel drew controversy for its unblinking treatment of Frannie's explosive and enigmatic sexual connection with Detective Malloy. Yet it also gained critical acclaim for forging "a masterful thriller" from the never-before-seen perspective of a woman uncovering her own hidden impulses even as she is stalked by a killer unable to control his.

The story leapt off the page as a neo-noir fairy tale, one in which a strong but uncertain woman descends through an alternate dark reality of fear and paranoia and emerges, with her lover's kiss, into a world of true longing and devotion. For Campion, it brought to mind her own feelings that in modern society, romance may have been brutally killed off, but that only leaves more room to explore real love.

Campion comments, "At the beginning of the story, Frannie doesn't really know why she's living her life. It feels dead – safe yet lifeless. The safety s

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