The Final Cut


‘some familiar neo-noir elements; guns, show-downs and shoot-outs…’

Meanwhile back in 2004, writer/director Omar Naim was wrestling with some substantial questions in his unappreciated sci-fi thriller. As the title suggests, film-making is a key element, but the vague futuristic setting allows Naim to play things out in an original if not entirely successful manner. A restrained Robin Williams plays Alan Hackford, a cutter, which is to say an expert in making movies from memories; the rich have an implanted chip which records POV from birth onwards, and for their funerals, Hackford presents their life story as a final cut, focusing on the good and editing out the bad.

The morality of such an arrangement is firmly under discussion here; Hackford suffers from guilt about a childhood incident that he believes makes him a murderer, and so is attuned to seeking the best of the memories he harvests. But his search through the memories of a wealthy businessman, recently deceased, raises Hackford’s awareness of a potentially incestuous relationship. Hackford finds himself under pressure, from a rival cutter (Jim Caviezel) and from his new girlfriend Delilia (Mira Sorvino), but confronted with the sins of the past, what is the right thing for a conscientious editor to do?

One confusing scene features Hackman sharing a series of mesmerising, abstract clips with Delilia; he explains that these surreal scenes may be dreams or hallucinations. This confuses because if this is possible, how can Hackford know for certain that the businessman’s memories are real or not? This aspect isn’t explored, and The Final Cut falls back on some familiar neo-noir elements; guns, show-downs and shoot-outs. But the central idea is good, and might have flown given more original handling with the visuals.

Ideally for a film about editing, the great Dede Allen handles the shears here, while the equally super Tak Fujimoto handles the cinematography. Williams manages to suggest Hackford’s inner turmoil; there’s elements of The Conversation here as well. The Final Cut doesn’t quite hang together or satisfy, but it does have an original sci-fi idea to mine in a Twilight Zone way. Lost in the post in terms of box-office, this might just pick up an audience on streaming.


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  1. I remember seeing this at the time and being struck once again by how good Robin Williams was in a straight part when he wasn’t obliged to act daft. an interesting idea probably foiled by the low budget.

    • Or possible studio interference, the story doesn’t quite hang right, but Williams acts like his life depended on it, a strong and dignified performance that has pathos and heft.

  2. I haven’t heard of this one before but it does sound like it flew under the radar and was overshadowed but other major box office hits back in the day. Have you heard of the upcoming documentary revealing Robin Williams’ last wish? Looks promising and a huge tear-jerker.

    • I had registered the existence, and actually mixed up the titles when I wrote this review. Williams was a great comic and a genuine film star, and even if I don’t admire some of his films, he’s sorely missed, and a doc is a useful way to remember him.

  3. Wow, this opened a curious floodgate–momentarily confused this with What Dreams May Come, or other 2018 horror flick Final Wish where a guy gets his dead dad’s urn, which is a sort of magic lamp… In the states, the movie you reviewed was called Final Cut, more apropos for film about editing lives. I think there was a Pink Floyd movie with same name, to add to my ball of confusion. Also, watching this reminded me a bit of Minority Report… A thinner Williams does a great job playing protag but I don’t like the ending. The movie bears watching more than once to uncover its many layers and messages. You have to commit to being a good voyeur, as Williams was, or taxidermist, as his almost girfriend alludes… think I’ll go back and rewatch 1 Hour Photo and Insomnia, can’t sleep anyway… Thanks!

    • Williams had an interesting career, and there’s a case to be made for his later, melancholy films. Agree that the ending seems compromised, and as I said, the story doesn’t quite flow. But there are some great moments, and somehow knowing how things ended for Williams adds poignancy.

  4. I haven’t seen this one, but the premise most definitely sounds quite intriguing indeed. It’s original, I’ll give it that😊 Whenever I see Robin Williams I always become sad. Such a great actor, who passed before his time.
    Will keep my eyes open for this one, as despite the film isn’t without flaws, it’s premise has made me curious enough to check it out😊

    • It’s got a great premise, and has one of Williams’s better performances. While not great, the neat sci-first angle gets it over the line…

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