Cannes 2022: “Cut! », the delirious zombies of Michel Hazanavicius



Cut! ***

by Michel Hazanavicius

French film, 1h50

(Out of competition)

Decidedly, zombies are popular at Cannes, where for the second time in a few years they have the honors of the opening of the Festival. After those of Jim Jarmusch in 2019, who with The Dead Don’t Die diverted the genre to deliver an uncompromising vision of Trump’s America, here are those of Michel Hazanavicius and his tribute to the Z series, which is timely to bring smiles to festival-goers after two years in which the cinema has been battered by the pandemic of Covid-19.

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Z like Z was moreover the original title of this “filming comedy”, before the war in Ukraine and the warlike symbolism conferred by Russia on this letter of the alphabet forced the filmmaker to rename his film. It is therefore released in theaters under the title Cut!, which to be less catchy on the marketing level has the merit of displaying its real subject.

It is less about the living dead than about cinema and its backstage

Because for those who might have prejudices, it is less a question of these figures of the living dead – even if they are present with their share of ridicule and hemoglobin – than of the cinema and its backstage, as often with Michel Hazanavicius, who since The American Class Passing by The Redoubtable where the OSS 117 has never stopped celebrating the 7th art and those who make it.

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He himself also concedes that he is not a big fan of gore films. “On the other hand, I love the idea that a director makes films no matter what, whether he has the means or not. That what matters to him is to do, to manufacture. I find this approach not only courageous but above all very beautiful,” he explains.

Cut! is thus a tribute, as funny as it is touching, to the ingenuity deployed by a film crew, through a film that puts this same ingenuity at the service of its construction. To the point that the spectator constantly wonders what he is watching – a pastiche, a comedy or a film within the film – the subject being revealed as the story progresses.

All Z Series Codes

Without lifting the veil too much on what makes all the salt of this comedy, it all begins with the story of the shooting of a zombie film in a disused shopping center, with Romain Duris as a supercharged director trying to bring comedians to life. and sluggish technicians. As a demiurge of the board, this one will voluntarily trigger a curse and cause the eruption of authentic undead.

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In a single sequence shot of thirty-two minutes, we witness the stampede of this terrified team who will try to triumph over evil. Kilos of red paint, approximate acting and special effects, image grain, distressing music: all the codes of the Z series are there.

But beyond what seems to be only a somewhat disconcerting parody, the director has fun sowing the clues of what will follow. Characters with strangely Japanese first names, hesitant dialogues and absurd replies suggest that something else is hiding behind the image.

A final feat that leaves no respite to laughter

We must therefore overcome this initial perplexity, which still lasts half an hour, to understand where the filmmaker wants to take us. All that remains is to let yourself be carried away by this story with drawers which gently mocks the film industry with its broke directors, its unscrupulous producers and its failed actors or with oversized egos, before the final prowess leaving no respite to laughter.

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Everything is led by the comic slaughter of Romain Duris, surrounded by a cast of choice, Bérénice Béjo, Finnegan Oldfield and Grégory Gadebois, all excellent in the exercise of autoparody. Adapted from a Japanese student film, the film tried to put itself in the same economy with a shoot in six weeks and a budget, all things considered, relatively modest.

Above all, with the presence of his wife and two daughters in the credits, it is impossible not to see in the character of Romain Duris a slightly cursed double of Michel Hazanavicius, and in this comedy a magnificent declaration of love for his profession.

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A very rich program

Twenty-one films are competing this year in competition for the Palme d’Or including four French: Brother and sisterby Arnaud Desplechin, Stars at Noon, by Claire Denis The Almond Treesby Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, and A little brother, by Leonor Serraille.

Will be presented out of competitionoutraged Top Gun, Maverick in tribute to Tom Cruise, Elvis by Baz Luhrmann, Masquerade by Nicolas Bedos November by Cedric Jimenez, Three thousand years waiting for you by George Miller and The Innocent by Louis Garrel.

Ukraine will be present with Mariupolis 2montage of images of the director Mantas Kvedaravicius, killed by the Russian army on April 2, and the new documentary by Sergei Loznitsa, The Natural History of Destruction. These two films do not participate in the competition.

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