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Wed October 13, 2004
The Final Cut
It is the conceit of having every moment in one's life recorded that keeps interest in an otherwise unremarkable film.
By John DeSando,WCBE's "It's Movie Time"
Robin Williams has perfected the nerdy, introverted psycho ("One Hour Photo," "Insomnia"), contrary to his real-life persona of an ebullient, witty softy. In " The Final Cut" he eschews the psycho to concentrate on the futuristic introverted "cutter," who edits for "rememory" at death the lives of those who had a chip implant that recorded every moment from birth. (In "Final Cut" world, only one in twenty has been implanted.)
Not a bad premise at all considering the memory chips today and the dilemma of someone outside of family selecting scenes for a retrospective. In the last four years at least two films have seriously studied memory: "Memento" and "21 Grams." The directors are able through fragmented narrative to show character motivation in sharp relief, where a traditional linear exposition makes us wait until much more time has elapsed. Existentially each character is working out his/her own fate and attaching to the fate of the other. It's a small world held together by the working of each one's fate.
"The Final Cut" director/writer Omar Naim ("Grand Theater: A Tale of Beirut") connects Williams with but a few others in the film such as Mia Sorvino as a shy type whose interest in the high-maintenance Williams is difficult to understand given her youth and beauty. The black hole of his interior life is not explored except for the repeated flashback to a traumatic childhood accident. Memory then is just a concept here, a conceit to create a sci-fi playground without supervision.
Of course, in Williams' perfect editing world, he is completely in charge; however, when he is attacked by his own memory and those who would destroy the whole "Eye" program, the chance for character development is gone. The chance to explore the morality of memory and the ethics of someone surveying one's most intimate moments is never confronted nor is the topic of how some like me prefer to shape our memory with the words of a writer.
The director seems more interested in how perfectly robotic Williams can be. The film does play briefly with ethics in a subplot about exposing an abusive famous father, whose act is on his chip after death. Or maybe Naim is really having fun with film editors, who have a power akin to Williams'.
Tak Fujimoto's cinematography is eerily appropriate befitting that preeminent photography icon; Bryan Tyler's score is like many others today, doing more than it should even in its most minimalist moments. But it is the conceit of having every moment in one's life recorded that keeps interest in an otherwise unremarkable film.
Hamlet prefers control of his memory: "Yea, from the table of my memory/I 'll wipe away all trivial fond records."
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE's "It's Movie Time," which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com.