Final Cut


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

In zombie land:  Berenice Béjo and Romain Duris in Michel Hazavacius’ Cannes opener Final Cut (Z Comme Z)
"An homage to truly bad film-making - but it sails perilously close to self-parody" | Photo: Pan Distribution

Michel Hazanavicius loves playing around with the conventions of cinematic genres - and has achieved some considerable success in the Oscar-winning The Artist and the retro spy spoof OSS 117 and its sequel.

Now he’s decided to remake a Japanese cult comedy One Cut Of the Dead as an homage to truly bad filmmaking - but it sails perilously close to self-parody. Comparisons are said to be odious but you cannot help but reflect that it was only three years ago when the opening film at Cannes was Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die which also dealt with zombies but with aplomb and neat touches of the absurd.

Hazanavicius misjudges it all, with the cast including Romain Duris as the demented film-maker, overstriving to be whacky, knowing and hilarious. Mostly they’re not. The first 30 minutes (apparently following the structure of the original) is taken up with a hand-held French zombie movie being shot in one take in a deserted factory. There follows a veritable bonanza of blood splattered axes, flying limbs while the lead actress (Matilda Lutz) is subject to all manner of indignities including the wrath of the director.

Then the credits roll … and Hazanavicius plunges us back three months as the project, financed by the elderly Mrs Matsuda, (Yoshiko Takehara) got off the ground. Bérénice Bejo is the make-up woman, deadpan Finnegan Oldfield is Bang (a blue zombie) and Lyes Salem strides around as the producer (one of the few rounded characters).

In the flashback mode it turns out that Duris is not really a megalomaniac director but mainly a family guy at heart who is trying to resurrect his career and also to please his film obsessed daughter (played by Simone Hazanavicius, the director’s own off-spring).

Eventually we get back to the shooting of the film within the film - and we have to go through all the antics yet again including the much put-upon wheelchair bound Grégory Gadebois, spewing zombie vomit with renewed alacrity.

Hazanavicius and his cast obviously had a whale of a time making it but the in-jokes are clumsy, obvious, repetitive and fsll distinctly flat at least for this viewer although fair to point out that some of the Cannes first-nighters were whooping with delight.

Reviewed on: 18 May 2022
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Final Cut packshot
Things go badly for a small film crew shooting a low-budget zombie movie when they are attacked by real zombies.

Director: Michel Hazanavicius

Writer: Michel Hazanavicius

Starring: Bérénice Bejo, Grégory Gadebois, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Lutz, Raphaël Quenard

Year: 2022

Runtime: 110 minutes

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