Every so often a film comes out on DVD that knocks you for six; it transcends the boundaries of entertainment; it makes you question life; hell, it even makes you question yourself.
‘Final Cut’ is one of those films.
Made in 1998, and nominated in 1999 for a Golden Hitchcock award at the Dinard British Film Festival, ‘Final Cut’ is a superb example of British art house film making at its best. Starring the very pretty Jude Law, the infallible Ray Winstone, and doyenne of the defunct ‘Primrose Hill Set’ and underwear designer, Sadie Frost, it is a work of celluloid genius from the minds of Dominic Anciano and Ray Burdis-who not only wrote, produced and directed ‘Final Cut’, also thought it’d be fun to actually act in it too. Talented men, clearly.
It opens with a madcap Jude –the characters are named after the actors who portray them. A stroke of fabulousness on the part of Messrs Anciano and Burdis-clowning about in a home-made video. Suddenly it cuts to a sombre looking bunch of people, all dressed in black, and very obviously not having a good time. Then it becomes clear, they’re at a wake-Jude’s wake to be precise.
And the aforementioned bunch is Jude’s closest friends and relations. Sadie-Jude’s wife- instructs the mourners to sit down, she has something she wants to show them. She sticks in a video tape. Let the fun begin.
Unbeknownst to his nearest and dearest the wily Jude has been secretly filming them for the past two years. Understandably, this comes as something of a shock. Jude’s film is one huge, giant, exposé of their lives inter-cut with his witty commentary; it reveals, scene by excruciating scene, their most depraved behaviour, and over the course of the screening reveals a panoply of misdemeanours: drug dealing, cross dressing, blackmail, infidelity-to name but a few. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of sin.
As the unwitting audience sit there, having their deepest darkest secrets exploded on screen courtesy of their dearly departed “friend”, they are forced to question one another’s motives and actions; relationships they thought were indestructible are crumbling down before their eyes.
Ray Winstone as Ray (natch) steals the show. He’s somewhat typecast here as a thuggish East End wide boy, but there’s a reason for that. He does ‘thuggish East End wide boy’ so very well-his acting, as always, is exemplary. Jude Law is his ever grinning, boyish self, which again, he does very well- no change there. Sadie Frost is the only one whose acting is slightly shaky, slightly less than believable in parts, but she soldiers on and ends up delivering a commendable performance.
The finale of Jude’s film is a deeply disturbing, yet brilliant twist that renders you speechless. ‘Final Cut’ obliges you, like the characters within, to examine your own moral boundaries, your own sense of right and wrong. It’s at once profoundly shocking, yet also darkly comic. You can not help but laugh-albeit rather tentatively, are you seriously allowed to find this amusing?- at the sheer temerity of it all. The gritty, perverse little vignettes that comprise Jude’s tour de force spectacularly blow all preconceived ideas of relationships out of the water. One is left wondering, as indeed the characters are, who we can trust in this world but ourselves?
‘Final Cut’ is released on DVD this September; one wonders why it took so long? It’s long overdue. If there’s any justice in this world it’ll silence those critics who harp on about the impotency of home grown films. Gritty, sordid, uncomfortable, yes, but impotent it most definitely isn’t.
Written for Entertainment Wise