Cut!

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Cut
"All the archetypes of giallo are here, just filtered through a queer lens." | Photo: Courtesy of Newfest

“When a film contains a bit of bad acting, it’s an imperfect film, but when it contains a lot of bad acting, it’s a question of style,” says Marcos (played by director Marc Ferrer).

One could never accuse Cut! of lacking style. A familiar style in queer cinema, perhaps, but one which Ferrer approaches with gusto and easily makes his own. His character is, naturally, also a filmmaker, more prolific and less successful, equally enthusiastic. Undeterred by recent flops, he’s setting out to make a horror film about a mysterious killer stalking glamorous stars. The trouble is, somebody seems to be doing that for real.

One of the things about queer life – and likewise filmmaking culture – is that even in a city the size of Barcelona, everyone who’s anyone knows one another. This isn’t good when there’s a murderer on the scene. Marco isn’t the sort to get emotional over the loss of friends or workmates – as long as he’s already slept with them and got their scenes in the bag, but as the killings get closer and closer to home, he’s not too happy about being seen as a suspect. Meanwhile, his friends (who are well aware that he doesn’t really deserve them) start to worry that he might be next. Carelessly taking home strangers may not be the best idea under the circumstances – especially as his lack of concern for others’ emotions could easily be what has inspired the killings.

It’s worth making a distinction here between bad acting and shallow acting. There’s plenty of the latter on display. The characters are (often literally) colourful and distinctive, but have no emotional depth. The comic timing is spot on, however, and everybody clearly knows what they’re doing. All the archetypes of giallo are here, just filtered through a queer lens, from the slinky, catty drag queen who dresses like an Old Hollywood star and walks home alone at night to the ingénue who sleeps like a lingerie model with her bedroom window open, and the heavy-set butch detective – in this case female – who sleeps with every pretty thing in sight. Helping to keep that fourth wall flexible are a couple of spectators who watch the action on TV, one of them explaining the plot to the other and prompting us to try and figure out who the killer could be.

Expressing his devotion to the genre even as he sends it up, Ferrer employs classic giallo lighting techniques, though his cheery colours have more in common with the work of Almodóvar or Ozon than with the rich hues preferred by Argento. Outdoor scenes mostly stick with natural light and avoid the city’s more famous areas, highlighting the contrast between the drabness of day to day life and the glamour of those living large lives within it. As Marco insists that films have to be made, regardless of the consequences, Cut! evinces a joie-de-vivre that is at once infectious and, in the context of serial killings, seriously unhinged. Behind this lurks an awareness, however, of what camp humour is for; an understanding that this is a tradition which has evolved in order to reclaim joy despite existing in close proximity to violence.

Much smarter all round than it looks on the surface, this is a wildly entertaining piece of work. It was a great choice for Newfest 2021 and it suggests that there will be a lot more fun to come from Ferrer in the future.

Reviewed on: 23 Oct 2021
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Cut! packshot
The director of a low-budget queer thriller tries to solve a violent murder mystery that threatens his set.

Director: Marc Ferrer

Starring: Silvia Alcaraz, Manuel Delgado, Kike Fernandez, Mark Ferrer, Eduardo Gión, Samantha Hudson

Year: 2021

Runtime: 78 minutes

Country: Spain

Festivals:

Newfest 2021

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