A calculated throwback to old-fashioned romances, THE CUTTING EDGE could be used as a classroom example of correct, if not necessarily compelling, screenwriting technique. It sets up its situation, in which antagonistic characters are thrown together and fall in love, and plays it out to logical perfection. Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is a working-class...read more
A calculated throwback to old-fashioned romances, THE CUTTING EDGE could be used as a classroom example of correct, if not necessarily compelling, screenwriting technique. It sets up its situation, in which antagonistic characters are thrown together and fall in love, and plays it out to
Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is a working-class kid with a gift for playing hockey; he looks as though he's headed for a major career until a minor but irreparable eye injury sidelines him. Kate Moseley (Moira Kelly) is a spoiled rich girl whose bid for Olympic figure skating fame is defeated by her
nasty temperament. She's such a bitch no one can stand her, and all her daddy's (Terry O'Quinn) money can't change that. Crafty old Russian coach Anton Pamchenko (Roy Dotrice) pairs the two, and soon they're bickering by day and conspicuously ignoring one another by night. Doug has to relearn
skating (he thinks figure skating is such a sissy business that he tells his friends back home that he's shipped out with the merchant marines), and Kate needs to accept that yes, she can learn something from somebody else. They form an inspired partnership (he gives her sex and she gives him
class, to invert the old Astaire/Rogers formula) and progress to the Olympic tryouts. Along the way they fall in love, though at first they both do their best to deny it. In an improbable but perfectly predictable ending, they admit their mutual attraction moments before skating out to Olympic
stardom, sealing their declaration not with a kiss, but with a novel and difficult stunt.
Perhaps the reason THE CUTTING EDGE seems so oddly old fashioned is that the romantic conventions by which it plays have in recent years been usurped by the buddy movie, exemplified by the wildly successful LETHAL WEAPON series. At least where American films are concerned, today's viewers seem to
expect their opposites-attract couples to be of the same sex variety, and (in mainstream movies, anyway) expect them not to end up in bed together. They just learn tolerance, acceptance and understanding as chaste friendship blossoms. That's not to say you don't have mismatched couples falling for
one another in contemporary movies, just that their affairs are seldom the focal point. It's as though today's moviemakers have lost faith in romance, pure and simple, as a subject. Even THE BIG EASY, a longstanding favorite of contemporary romantics, tries to insure that audiences won't get bored
by surrounding its love affair with a murder mystery and lashings of New Orleans atmosphere, while PRETTY WOMAN--probably the closest thing to an old-fashioned romance movie in years--tricks up the fairy tale story line with class comedy and yuppie angst.
Directed by Paul Michael Glaser (formerly half of that Ur-buddy couple, TV's "Starsky and Hutch"), THE CUTTING EDGE also seems anachronistic in its PG-rated treatment of sex; there's scarccly more of it than you'd find in a similar film made in the 1940s, and what there is takes place discretely
off screen. The movie's thrills are mostly of the athletic variety, and though diehard ice skating fans were no doubt disappointed by the rapid-fire editing required to conceal--quite effectively--the use of doubles for Kelly and Sweeny, the ice-skating scenes are in fact well photographed and
competently used to delineate the developing relationship between the two skaters.
Clearly designed to be a family entertainment, THE CUTTING EDGE has a by-the-numbers quality that's only partly concealed by smooth production values and consistent--if uninspiring--performances.
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