Remake of a Japanese film passed mostly under the radar of international audiences, Cut! is a daring comedy coupled with a sincere declaration of love for Z-series cinema. It was well worth awarding it the award, perhaps a tad precocious (and still only), of winner 2022 in its category.
When Michel Hazanavicius said he wanted to make a remake of Don’t Cut!, everyone’s eyebrows were raised in astonishment. It must be said that the Japanese film released in 2019 quickly made a reputation as a little gem in the middle, despite a relative invisibility for the greatest number. From then on, seeing the director of the first two parts of OSS 117 or The American Class getting down to a French adaptation, sooner rather than later, had everything of the puzzle project whose interest we did not understand, and believed even less in its success. Except maybe to do additional publicity to the original.
Except Cut! managed to attract attention, largely through its status as the opening film of the Cannes Film Festival (out of competition). Programming error? Cronyism? Blackmail of a director knowing the school where the children of the president of the Festival are educated? No, Cut! is just a good movie. A very good movie.
For those at the back of the class who have not followed the pitch of Shin’ichirô Ueda’s film, that of Hazanavicius takes the same lines: a shooting of a low-budget zombie film with a very little involved team , apart from the director, is suddenly disturbed by the irruption of real undead.
The originality of Ueda
Let’s give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, the first success of the film is due to its plot taken from its elder. We cannot tell you too much without revealing the highlights of Coupez!, but it is important to highlight an important information: the feature film will not give you at first glance any key to understanding its objective. The result is a truly dwarfing first half-hour where you have the feeling of watching a (falsely) Z-series film that combines bad effects, bad make-up and the worst acting, content with clumsy dialogue.
An a priori off-putting introduction for those who were not prepared to inflict such mediocrity on themselves. It will even be a safe bet that some will not push their curiosity further, wondering how the filmmaker and the cast could have signed for this before leaving the room.
Big mistake as this first part is necessary for the sequel which will reveal treasures of intelligence and imagination, upsetting our vision of the work. The scenario then takes the form of a bet. A risky bet where we try to maintain the interest of the spectator by its worst side from the outset before excelling thereafter by revealing its secrets. The company is crazy, the idea is great.
Because the film is above all a fiery love letter for the cinema Z; the one who overcomes his budget, his amateurism to go through with his business against winds and tides. The one who never gives up to offer us the best of the worst and reminds us that we all start somewhere and that before directing Titanic, James Cameron offered us Piranha 2.
Hazanavicius’ experience and humor
But why a remake if the story remains almost the same? Just a question of visibility? No, because behind Cut! hides Michel Hazanavicius and that the director has experience, whether behind the camera or in comedy. His first contribution lies in this famous first part in which he distils enough falsehood to keep our curiosity awake where his counterpart played the mediocre card more real than nature. The French approach may seem less courageous, but it has the merit of immediately amusing, quietly setting up its future atmosphere without causing too destabilizing a shift.
Then, the director has the ingenuity to assume its adaptation by integrating it into the scenario. Cut! assumes its model, claims it, shows it and ridicules the very concept of copy-paste. The filmmaker rediscovers his parodic spirit with delight by using his remake to make fun of this fashion where we no longer adapt, we copy. A film within the film where we abandon all reflection to obey the decision-makers. The review is not subtle, but it is written with the greatest amusement.
And since we’re talking to you earlier about humor, here again the director offers us a gem of the genre where the floodgates fly as quickly as the big puppet takes possession of each situation. We are in the absurd, the burlesque, a big brothel where each character manages to shine for the sole purpose of making us laugh. And in this game, Romain Duris finds one of his best roles as the conductor of this fantastic deception.