Cut Snake

***

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Cut Snake
"The novel angle it takes is the best thing going for this film, and it is a smart twist to an rote story."

Returning to a homegrown Australian project after a dalliance with Hollywood, Sullivan Stapleton is the freshly released prisoner Jim “Pommie” Stewart. He’s all muscle and tattoos, played with an impressively predatory glint in the eyes, and he’s desperate to be re-united with his former prison mate Mirv “Sparra”, played with chiseled stoicism by Alex Russell.

The Seventies setting either serves to cast the film in a lovely sun kissed glow, to adorn the cast in some impressively tight clothes, or to hint at certain identity politics that end up being the focus of the biggest twist of the film. It’s never really justified, but it makes for a unique setting at the very least, although Seventies Australia could easily be Seventies UK or US here.

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For the most part, this is a by the numbers affair. Pommie is back, and he’s tempting a reluctant Sparra back into a life that he’s long since left behind, threatening to upset Sparra and and Paula’s (Jessica De Gouw) relationship. There’s more to their past than crime and prison though, and Paula has her illusions shattered by Pommie as he drops some truly incendiary bombs throughout the film.

I don’t want to spoil it, because the novel angle it takes is the best thing going for this film, and it is a smart twist to an rote story. Allusions towards the reveal make themselves known in a few instances, and although it isn’t subtly handled - machismo and violence often get in the way of true emotions - it’s certainly a believable story.

Otherwise, there’s little to get excited about. The fashion remains a high point, and the in your face attitude of the male characters suggests that there was a concerted effort to try and conduct a deeper exploration of the issues it eventually comes to focus on. It’s difficult to dislike, but it fails to really ignite any great interest.

Part of this is due to a fairly underwhelming handling of Paula, who serves as outsider and main source of insight into the knotted threads of Mirv and Jim’s past. Her reactions felt out of place considering the setting, but were eventually reneged without much analysis into the character’s thought process, which is a shame considering the work put in by De Gouw.

Capping the story is an improbable finale which goes for an emotional gut punch that seems obvious, but also fairly in-elegant due to the change of heart that occurs in Pommie. It feels like a hamfisted attempt at redemption, and it would have been more compelling and understated to see the character remain absolute in his dedication to destroying Mirv’s happiness as revenge for being abandoned. Instead, Cut Snake doesn’t quite live up to its name, and instead coils itself to sleep around a piece of fairly trite melodrama.

Reviewed on: 21 Jun 2015
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A pair of ex-cons are set on a collision course.

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