Saturday, 23 August 2008

Cutter's Way

Just a brief comment on this film. Watched it today. It is a wonderful character study that takes its time, heading towards a sense of quiet desperation within the underclasses.

The story is of repercussions left by a teenage girl's dead body found in a dumpster. A womanising waster played by Jeff Bridges finds the body and may have seen the killer. He is hauled in by the police yet not charged with anything. He mentions to his Vietnam vet friend Cutter, played by an excellent John Heard, that he thinks that the killer was an industrialist with a shady past. Cutter is bitter about society, has an haunted alcoholic wife, played by Lisa Eichhorn, who Bridges has an interest in.

While most films would take this situation and go for a twisty thriller, this film turns the situation into a character study, most of it taking place in Cutter's home. Bridges is the central character, a man who never acts, always walks away from human connection. He's a failure in life, is studied a lot throughout the film within inaction, is forced into varying minor-key reactions by Cutter and Cutter's wife. Cutter wants to blackmail the industrialist, use the payment as proof of guilt then turn the guy over to the police. He wants revenge on the type of man who begins wars from a distance, is never infected by pain. The wife wants to back away, is drifting from life. The human contacts in this trio, of friendships, betrayal of expectations, of self-hatred, of how these affect the wider world, is the focus of the film. The film subtly drifts into tragedy, Bridges finally acting well after its a time he could be of use. The film suggests by the end he would never be of use, that his friends are damned even without the killing.

This is an amazing late seventies film. It should be far more famous than it is. The acting through-out is terrific by all involved, the directing by Ivan Passer very subtle and unforced but has wonderfully distinct images and moments. There is a haunting Jack Nietzsche score that is a Badlands companion almost. It is a beautiful film about drained lives.

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