FINAL CUT, THE
In the not too distant future, a Zoë implant is inserted into the brain, recording the subject's every experience. On their death, the implant is removed and a 'cutter' edits their life into a eulogy. The king of the cutters is Alan Hakman (Robin Williams), who has a reputation for taking on difficult jobs - like lives that weren't exactly spotless - and sanitising them for public consumption. But not everyone is pleased with the Zoë concept, and an underground opposition movement is growing. A key figure in this movement is an ex-cutter, Fletcher (Jim Caviezel). When Alan takes on a particularly difficult cutting job involving a key executive in the company behind Zoë implants, he risks not only his reputation, but his safety, and that of his sometime girlfriend Delila (Mira Sorvino).
Review by David Edwards:
Robin Williams returns to the dark territory of One Hour Photo in this intriguing if ultimately unsatisfying thriller. Writer-director Omar Naim starts from a fantastic premise, but for a variety of reasons, the film's potential is never fully realised.
Chief among those reasons is an apparent inability to sustain the film's narrative. Naim doesn't seem to know where to take his idea, and in the end, the indecisiveness results in the plot simply petering out, rather than reaching a satisfying conclusion. There's also some very strange editing thrown into the mix, which results in at least one character being very disjointed. And while the film's near-future setting allows considerable latitude, elements of the production design leave something to be desired.
On the plus side, The Final Cut features one of the more intriguing theses for a film in recent years. The idea of technology recording our every move through life is worthy of Philip K. Dick or Isaac Asimov. Even more enticing is the notion that someone will have the job of going through these lives and editing out all the misdeeds, foibles and even crimes to create a sanitised portrait. The person concerned ceases to be a life, and becomes a version of a life. And while similar sanitisation probably happens every day at eulogies delivered around the world, the kicker here is the effect that viewing these imperfect lives has on the person charged with cleaning them up.
It also raises serious questions about the intrusion of technology into people's everyday activity. Like Wim Wenders' The End of Violence, it poses the question: would you act differently if you knew your every move was being recorded? Do we feel guilt for our actions, or because we fear someone might find out about them?
Shot around Vancouver, Canada, the film's dark mood is finely matched by Tak Fuijmoto's atmospheric cinematography. The grainy sepia tones complement Naim's shadowy subject matter to a tee.
The Final Cut features another brilliantly observed performance from Robin Williams. His measured portrayal of the troubled yet precise Hakman holds the film together. Even towards the end when things become rather less interesting, his on-screen presence is never less than mesmerising. Mira Sorvino (who gets second billing) is oddly under-utilised as Delila, and her relationship with Hakman ends up being more confusing than enlightening. Jim Caviezel makes an impression as Fletcher, although he seems perhaps a little restrained for a fanatic. Also worthy of note in a smaller part is Mimi Kuzyk as a cutter who won't touch the kinds of jobs Alan takes on.
The Final Cut is a generally well-crafted film that raises important questions. Its real failing however is its inability to provide cogent answers to those questions. Omar Naim marks himself as a director to watch, although his scriptwriting could use some polish. Perhaps with a larger budget and more experience, he will be able to achieve greater heights. But the real reason to see this film is for Williams' excellent performance.
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FINAL CUT, THE (M)
CAST: Robin Williams, Mira Sorvino, James Caviezel, Mimi Kuzyk, Stephanie Romanov, Thom Bishops, Genevieve Buechner, Brendan Fletcher
PRODUCER: Nick Wechsler
DIRECTOR: Omar Naim
SCRIPT: Omar Naim
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Tak Fujimoto
EDITOR: Dede Allen, Robert Brakey
MUSIC: Brian Tyler
PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Chinlund
RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 11, 2004