Cannes Film Festival certainly has a love for over-the-top hilarious zombie films. So much that after choosing Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” as the 2019 openings film, they now opened their 75th edition of the festival with “Final Cut” (original title: Coupez !) from writer/director Michel Hazanavicius (“The Lost Prince”, “Redoubtable”). The hilarious story is cleverly adapted and written, and creativity is present in bucket loads. It would be the perfect opener for FrightFest but was it also the right choice for the Cannes Film Festival?
If you’re watching “Final Cut” and you have the feeling that you have seen it before, you’re right. The movie is, in fact, a remake of One Cut of the Dead by Shin’ichirô Ueda, a film that’s about a director creating a zombie movie. Knowing this, you can expect a metaverse of zombie movies. “Final Cut” is about director Rémi (Romain Duris), who hesitantly takes on the task of remaking a successful Japanese zombie movie into a French one. However, his film is doomed right from the beginning. Actors who aren’t happy with their roles and lines, a budget way too low and not enough creative freedom to ‘French-ise’ the movie.
On top of that, the 30-minutes long film will be live-streamed and therefore needs to be shot in one take. Miraculously Rémi, his cast and crew make it onto the set, but then the zombie curse strikes again. Rémi and his wife/actress Nadia (Bérénice Bejo) need to replace the leads, who were involved in an unexplainable accident. So will Rémi’s zombie film ever be made (successfully)?
You find out the answer to the question relatively early in this movie but without realising it. That ‘nothing is what it seems’ aspect is a significant element of “Final Cut”. Even more so during the first and last parts in which the focus lays on the ‘movie-in-the-movie’ aspects.
During the middle part of “Final Cut”, the focus shifts towards how Remi perceives making his remake and its impact on his family life; It’s also then that the movie slips a little bit away. Though highly present throughout the whole film is a bunch of humour, overdone bloody moments, and fun acting performances. Hazanavicius is also not afraid of throwing in many offensive jokes. From foul language to off-colour jokes, it’s all in there! It’s just a shame that the jokes and the hilarious moments become too repetitive and exaggerated.
At first, “Final Cut” seems a bit too ‘cheaply’ made and ‘extremely bad’ acted (hence the tagline “Fast, Cheap and Decent”). However, when it becomes clear that that’s precisely that point, you will certainly enjoy this movie a lot. Hazanavicius combines entertaining and rude spoofs and knockabout comedy expertly. Both subtle during the more emotional parts and more bombastic when the bloody zombies are gracing the screen.
Because Rémi doesn’t have enough creative freedom from the Japanese filmmakers, some aspects get ‘lost in translation’ and might not work the best in Hazanavicius’s movie. However, what keeps this film going is the physical, gruesome, but funny horror created by extreme creativity.
While most of the acting is amplified (mainly on purpose, we guess), there are also wonderfully balanced performances by Duris and Bejo. Duris (“All the Money in the World”, “Eiffel”) makes sure that you see both sides of Rémi wonderfully. From the desperate but also passionate filmmaking to the loving and supporting husband and father.
Bejo (“The Man in the Basement”, “Shake Your Cares Away”) knows how to stand her ground in this film as she gives a beautiful, emotional and punchy performance. Yes, behind the façade of blood and zombies, there’s a beautiful story about family and (re-)finding the love for filmmaking.
“Final Cut” is currently taking on the French box office as it was released earlier this week. The movie doesn’t have a UK release date yet, but it wouldn’t surprise us that it’s picked up by smaller niche film festivals where it would be a perfect fit. It might not have been the best choice as an opener for the Cannes Film Festival, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie. If you can get past the film’s craziness, over-the-top aspects and rudeness, you will find that “Final Cut” is filled with a lot of passion, entertainment, creativity, heart and blood!
THE QUICK SELL
Things go badly for a small film crew shooting a low budget zombie movie when they are attacked by real zombies.