340 meters per second

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

&mdash Alfred Adler (1870-1937)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mortician, priest or taxidermist?

The Final Cut is a cerebral thriller starring Robin Williams as a 'cutter.' In the near-future world posited by writer-director Omar Naïm (channelling Phil Dick), we've created something called the "Zoe Implant," a cybernetic device which records our life as we perceive it. Working in real time, the headware stores the visual and auditory portion of our stimuli 24-7 so that when we die a cutter can extract the memories, edit and arrange them using a device nicknamed "the guillotine," so that the finished product can be shown at one's funeral/wake.

With a small cast rounded out by Mira Sorvino, James Caviezel and Mimi Kuzyk (Of "Blue Murder" fame), this movie focusses on details and small, nuanced moments. With an intriguing concept and room to maneuver, The Final Cut had great potential. Unfortunately, uneven execution and uninspired performances from the primaries squanders some of that potential.

Robin Williams' recent spate of dramatic roles (Insomnia, One Hour Photo, Jakob the Liar) has provided some memorable performances but also, it seems, a template: slightly withdrawn, socially awkward, calculating, brittle, anonymous--in other words, the opposite of everything we've come to expect from Williams. While this worked wonderfully in Insomnia, it's getting to be a tad repetitive and I would've liked him to dig a little deeper for The Final Cut.

While I missed that big movie Caviezel starred in a while back, I liked him well enough in The Count of Monte Cristo and he turns in a decent performance as a conflicted antagonist with a past. Mira Sorvino isn't given a whole lot to work with but she acquits herself well, finessing her limited role into something more complex than I think Naïm envisioned. Mimi Kuzyk is sharp and crisp, delivering her lines with a particular relish; her character's professional veneer allows her to bite off snappy retorts while maintaining an air of cool detachment:

Alan Hakman (Williams): I need to speak to you alone.
Thelma (Kuzyk): Michael, why don't you go down to the store and buy some cigarettes?
Michael (Fletcher): We got eight packs already.
Thelma (Kuzyk): Well, bring them back then. We don't need so many.

Although the premise for the movie is fascinating, it gets a bit muddled during the execution, with a polluted little love story unevenly stitched in and a cutter culture hinted at but never fully explored. For the record, I'm not necessarily opposed to romantic subplots and even in The Final Cut, the relationship between Sorvino and Williams' characters had potential--it was just badly played out.

I'd recommend he movie for its gorgeous cinematography and fascinating premise, but don't get your hopes up too high.


  • At 10:56 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Check out "They Came Back (Les Revenants)". Would love to hear your & M's (hehe) musings on a cerebral, slow paced & intricately detailed philosophical take on the recentely revitalized zombie film genre. Wonderful to see the world "aphasia" used without further clarification.

    Sadly, no gut-munching, though, which narrows potential distribution rather alot.


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