In the future, the greatest gift a parent can give to their child is a memory implant that allows the person to record their lives until the day they die. Once they've passed on, their chip is given to a "Cutter," who takes the decades of footage and creates a funeral film to celebrate the life lost (or cover up dirty secrets if need be). Alan Hakman (a stealthy Robin Williams) is a cutter given the darkly controversial life of an executive who worked behind the implant. Still haunted by his own traumatic childhood, Alan's fears come roaring back when the executive's memories contain clues to Alan's own puzzled past. Hot on Alan's trail is a former cutter (James Caviezel, wearing the worst fake beard ever) who wants the notorious footage to sabotage the implant company and, in his eyes, save the world.
Beginning with "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," 2004 has been inundated with movies that focus on mind tricks ("The Manchurian Candidate," "The Brown Bunny," and "The Forgotten"). "The Final Cut" (IMDb listing) is the most "1984" tinged of this new movement, crafting a Kubrickian film aesthetic to tell an age-old story about guilt and recollection. "Cut" is brought to the screen by Omar Naim, a first time writer/director who shows with this film that he might have a bright future once he gets a little more experience.
"Cut" isn't a flashy film, and considering its acting pedigree, the film is fairly low-tech in terms of production and drama. "Cut" is glacially paced, but Naim is respectful to the audience by keeping Alan's plot thread constantly dangling to maintain interest. Naim is also careful to not embellish his world, keeping a tight leash on the tricky (and eventually unexplained) backstory of cutters and staging his action mostly in homes and businesses to keep away from futuristic cityscapes. There are no flying cars or robots to populate this tale. Symbolism, mood, and performance guide his film, not technology. It's an interesting balance.
"Cut" clocks in at a curious 90 minutes, and the edits to the story are readily apparent when the picture focuses on Alan's confusing relationship with a sympathetic bookshop clerk, played by Mira Sorvino. Their scenes appear to be adding up to some dramatic peak never pays off, leaving a huge gap in this section of the picture. The last act is also where Naim trips up in execution, electing to pull a small trick on the audience by having the resolution play out exactly as promised throughout the rest of the film, while the audience might be expecting something more exciting or profound. An interesting attempt, but it ends "Cut" on a distinctly flat note.
"The Final Cut" is a subdued experience that can't overcome some critical editing flaws. However, it is a nice debut film from Omar Naim, and I'm curious to see what will come next from this talented filmmaker.
Filmfodder Grade: B-