Posts from July 31st, 2012

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Vidreoview: The Final Cut (2004)

I remember the first I heard of this movie was when reviews for it started coming out. I thought, “A sci-fi movie starring Robin Williams that I’ve never heard of!? How did this happen!?”

Years later I saw about 15 minutes of it on television and was instantly intrigued. Then just last weekend I found The Final Cut on DVD at a garage sale for $1. That’s cheaper than a Red Box, so I picked it up.

I enjoy it. It has a very intriguing premise: before your birth (if your parents can afford it), you can have a chip implanted in your brain that will record audio and video of everything you see and hear for your entire life. When you die, the footage is given to secretive “cutters” who edit your life down into a feature-length movie that is then watched at your funeral. What I really liked about this premise is how it has started to effect the entire world: people become obsessed with memory, and therefore nostalgia. Also people who know they have chips start to behave differently because they know their life will be watched and judged after they die. And since 1 in 20 people have the chips, the way people act to one another changes because they know there’s a chance that they’re being recorded and they might show up in the footage at someone else’s funeral.

Robin Williams plays Alan, a withdrawn and introverted cutter who specializes in cutting the lives of despicable people, removing all the bad parts. He makes “saints out of sinners,” and describes himself as a Sin Eater who absorbs the sins of the deceased so they can rest in peace. He is haunted by a childhood incident that lead to the death of another boy.

There’s a thriller plot where a group of luddites who oppose the whole idea of cutting (and have electrostatic tattoos that block their own chips from recording) want the footage that Alan is currently working on. It starts out as an intriguing plot, and builds steadily and effectively, but just kina peters out into a weird climax. I looked at the screen and said to writer/director Omar Naim, “Oh, that’s what you were going for? Really?”

But up until then the film is really very good. Robin Williams turns in another excellent subdued performance, like his characters in One Hour Photo or Insomnia. Jim Caviezel is good as the villain, but his beard is very distracting.

But my absolute favorite part about the whole film is the art direction. Y’know how a lot of sci-fi stuff is all sleek, glass and plastic, white and translucent? The Final Cut goes the opposite direction. It’s lush. Oak and mahogany, velvet and plush. Computers are hand-carved from wood. Clothes are thick and ornate. A society obsessed with nostalgia has pulled the best designs from mid-20th century and conglomerated them into a wonderfully warm and dark pastiche. The whole films feels like a rich smoking room at an exclusive club. I’ve never seen a future quite like the one in this movie, and I loved it.

Overall: Three stars.

Categories: Vidreoviews.