Cut And Run

Cut And Run


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Why do we see so many violent things on the news but find them censored when we go to the cinema? Why are we urged not to support the illegal drug trade but never shown what an ugly business it can be for the people at the production end? In Cut And Run, Ruggero Deodato, director of the infamous Cannibal Holocaust, addresses these questions with a style that combines cinematic flair and stark realism.

Fran (Lisa Blount) is a journalist with a strong stomach. She's seen some bloody violence among the drug gangs in Miami and she thinks she can handle whatever the world has to throw at her. Chasing up a lead about a vanished teenager, she and her cameraman Mark (Leonard Mann) venture deep into the Venezuelan jungle, where she hopes to interview the elusive Colonel Horne, a survivor of the Jonestown massacre. But Horne is now the leader of a native cult at war with the rest of the world. His army has tortured, raped and murdered its way through several local cocaine-processing plants, and he has no reason to respect the freedom of the press. Fran is about to find herself confronting a world whose real ugliness she never imagined.

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It's a potent idea for a film, and Deodato pulls it off well, with taut pacing and montages which contribute to a growing sense of disorientation. It's a shame that most of the acting is slapdash, though Valentina Forte (his girlfriend at the time) puts in a good turn as a one-time adventure-seeker forced into prostitution, and Richard Lynch as Horne, in his final speech, channels Klaus Kinski to great effect. The dubbing is pretty rough and there is currently no intact English-language version that doesn't randomly dip in and out of Italian - there's subtitling when this happens, but it's still a bit distracting.

As a commentary on the relationship between rich and poor parts of the world, the film works well, and it's a shame that those who might most benefit from its cautions are unlikely to see it. It's an effective warning to all those naive kids one meets who think it would be a great idea to holiday in impoverished, violent places; to the likes of the young activist I once met who thought she would like to go to Iraq, all alone, 'to help', provoking horror from a visiting Iraqi friend. Deodato maintains that the world is not by its nature a very nice place, and he doesn't hold back on the horror here, with brutal assaults depicted in a chilling verité style. Still, it's hard to argue that these scenes are gratuitous, in that they make absolute sense within the context of the story. Similarly, though he has been accused of misogyny, what we see here is really more of a depiction of the misogyny to be found wherever the rule of law breaks down. The one protracted rape scene is not presented in a titillating way; the woman in it isn't writhing and screaming, just lying there looking depressed, putting the attitudes of the male characters in their place.

Fans of horror will still find a few touches designed to appeal to their more traditional appetites, most notably the scary bald tribesman who rises up out of the water to attack. There's no debating the fact that this film is stylish, sometimes playfully so. It's also beautifully shot, with extended depth of field making one intently aware of what might be lurking in the jungle, and with wide panning shots from above revealing the majesty of this vast environment.

Overall, one is left with a vague feeling of frustration that Cut And Run couldn't quite live up to its potential - and wouldn't have been recognised for it anyway, thanks to the risks it took - but it's still a fascinating piece of work.

Reviewed on: 02 Jul 2009
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A journalist gets into deep trouble after following a drug-running and kidnap story deep into the jungles of the Amazon.
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Director: Ruggero Deodato

Writer: Cesare Frugoni, Dardano Sacchetti

Starring: Lisa Blount, Leonard Mann, Willie Aames, Richard Lynch, Richard Bright, Michael Berryman, Eriq La Salle, Gabriele Tinti, Valentina Forte, John Steiner, Karen Black

Year: 1985

Runtime: 90 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: Italy


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Cannibal Holocaust