Review: Final Cut
- CANNES 2022: Michel Hazanavicius offers up a hilarious and high cinephile-value diversion in the form of a multidimensional comedy unfolding on the set of a zombie film
"That’s not it at all! It’s the final scene, I want to see real terror in your eyes. I can tell you’re acting, but to make matters worse, I can tell you’re acting badly", the director screams at his lead actress before slapping his lead actor hard in the face for trying to calm things down. The tone is set: welcome to Final Cut [+see also:
interview: Michel Hazanavicius
film profile], French director Michel Hazanavicius’ brilliant new film which opened the 75th Cannes Film Festival out of competition to excellent effect, oozing wonderful, fun-filled humour as accessible to wider audiences as to the most demanding of cinephiles.
What are sincerity, truth and identity in the world of film, where the art of reconstruction, the creation of falsehood and imitation of life play continuously with the elastic boundaries of identification and the act of stepping into the mirror, in order to elicit very real emotions? Clearly, it’s a question which eats away at most filmmakers and actors who find themselves surrounded by a buzzing swarm of technicians, under the watchful eye of producers fretting over timings and cashflows. Michel Hazanavicius has made such questions the bread and butter of his career from the outset, turning out be a master when it comes to resurrecting the classics (via the multi-Oscar winning work and ultimate point of reference The Artist [+see also:
interview: Michel Hazanavicius
film profile]) and skilfully recycling genres, grafting onto these the modern distance of a highly developed and fully embodied sense of humour. Throwing himself into a very loose remake of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s Japanese comedy horror One Cut Of The Dead, Hazanavicius has found an ideal playing field for his immense filmmaking talent, which could easily be masked, for those out of the loop, by the great ease with which he reconstructs his subjects.
Built upon the principal of a film within a film focused on the filming process (rest assured, not only is everything far simpler in reality, it’s also a real pleasure to watch), Final Cut works in two successive yet superimposed time periods. The first 30 minutes take us on set of a B-list zombie film (if not C- or D-list… ultimately, it’s naff) struck by a dark curse which sees certain members of the team morphing into the living dead and spilling blood in a procession of screams, struggles for survival and pursuits. Then we move backwards in time by way of a flashback, to one month before the first clapperboard has slammed, following Remi’s (Romain Duris) agreement to make a “fast, cheap, middle of the road” film for a new streaming platform: a remake of a Japanese work consisting of just one long take. The pre-production countdown begins (marking three weeks, two weeks, one week, one day, one hour and then one minute until filming kicks off) for the cast, technicians and producers, but then shooting commences and surprises and accidents come thick and fast, linking back up with the first part of the film…
A masterfully controlled mise-en-abîme which is well-paced, full of vigour and hilarious to boot, Final Cut is - much like its fictional conceptual model - "a special, unusual and risky project". It’s a world which Michel Hazanavicius moves through like a fish in water, fine-tuning a perfect blend of first- and second-degree humour (largely helped by a troupe of unbridled actors, including Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Lutz, Sébastien Chassagne, Raphaël Quenard, Lyes Salem and Yoshiko Takehara, to name a few), further enhanced by dazzling production. Both pure pleasure for the viewer, and a tribute to film and the almost family-like micro-society behind (and permanently adapting during) its creation, Final Cut is without doubt an ideal opening film for the shrine to the 7th art that is the Cannes Film Festival and looks set to become a cult film of the future.
(Translated from French)
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