20 October 2014 | mskirollos
An impressive journey, but less impressive film
Faith Akin's epic tale of hope and survival, set in the time of the Armenian Genocide amidst the Great War and the resulting diaspora all over the world. I watched 'The Cut' lately during the London Film Festival, and found it worth the time in general and definitely had its good moments. It did not go for over-sentimentality and didacticism but rather showed an impressive journey of search and survival. For me, the wide shots in the desert and in the streets of Cuba were special, and there was very good work with costumes and set decoration. Some might argue that Armenians and Turks speaking English felt unnatural but it was totally justified for me.
However, the film fell short in several aspects, and during viewing I constantly had the feeling that much more could have been done with the powerful story that could have greatly enriched and added more depth to the end-product. The poor screenplay dialogue was the most obvious shortcoming in the film, and while its over-simplicity can be regarded by some as appealing minimalism, it remained a huge disappointment. One scene epitomised the problem here, when the protagonist discovered that his daughters were still alive, his friend shouted exuberantly with no more than "This is good .. this is good ". It is possible here that using the English language presented a problem. The contrived ending was, to a lesser extent, irritating as well but the slow camera work saved it. I found a particular scene very interesting, when the Turks were evacuating the Syrian city and a Turkish boy got injured by a thrown stone, and the protagonist's reaction, and I wish there were more of these side stories, like watching Chaplin's 'The Kid'.
In addition to screenplay, several techniques could have added more to the story; exposition by flashbacks at different parts of the journey (some dreams were deployed but to a limited effect), voice- overs contemplating the condition of humanity at the time of war. A good soundtrack could have made a big difference as well, and in such a film I think dispensing of such a poor soundtrack altogether could have yielded a better result and added a minimalistic touch, although of course this would have been difficult with the protagonist speech handicap and the lack of a narrator.
The challenging task for the main actor, to rely entirely on facial expressions and body gestures because of handicap early in the narrative, was met by a solid performance, but could be easily overlooked by general audience because of the shortcomings of the other narration elements.
An impressive story of survival, and a very important yet overlooked subject in recent history compared with others of even less scale, but less impressive film. The beautiful shots and powerful story were not enough to elevate it to the epic legendary status, but it is still worth watching.