Final Cut (Coupez!): Oscar-Winning Director Michel Hazanavicius Gory, Semi-Funny Zombie Picture (Opener, Cannes Film Fest 2022)

The Oscar-winning director of The Artist opens Cannes with a French-language remake of Japanese zombie flick One Cut of the Dead.

 

The goriest film to open the Cannes Film Fest, Michel Hazanavicius’ zombie comedy Final Cut (Coupez!) is a semi- clever, semi-entertaining feature.

Grade: C+ (**1/2* out of *****)

Faithful to the format that made Shinichiro Ueda’s 2017 Japanese horror flick a cult hit, earning $60 million worldwide on a $25,000 budget, the Oscar-winning Hazanavicius (‘The Artist’) keeps almost everything intact except for the language–and tone.

The cheap thrill of Final Cut is in seeing how the blood, brains and limbs of horror pictures are made, while making a fluffy work that draws its appeal from the reliable gross-out elements.

Like the original, the remake kicks off with an uncut sequence in which a zombie movie shoot turns deadly for real, with cast and crew transforming into the bloodsucking undead.

After that film and the credits, there’s shift to several weeks earlier, where second-rate French director Rémi Bouillon (Romain Duris), is approached by Japanese producer (Yoshiko Takehara) to helm a horror flick to be shot in one uninterrupted take.

Rémi accepts the job to impress his daughter, the wannabe filmmaker Romy (Simone Hazanavicius, the director’s daughter).

We get to see mishaps during pre-pro, like the car accident that injures the leads.

Remi is forced to play the director character in his own movie, while his wife Nadia (Bérénice Bejo, Hazanavicius’ real-life partner) is cast in another major role.

While Final Cut’s second act is weak, its third one is the strongest, allowing us to see all that went wrong with the opening segment. What initially seemed like bad filmmaking is funnier the second time around, as Rémi rushes is dealing with drunken cast members and ego-tripping stars.

After The Artist and the French New Wave homage Godard Mon Amour, and two OSS 117 spy flick spoofs, Hazanavicius has become a specialist in meta-movies about the very filmmaking process.

Working with cinematographer Jonathan Ricquebourg (Earwig), he gives the footage a gritty, handheld flair.

Some of the gags–the zombie vomit of one inebriated actor (Grégory Gadebois) turns out to be real vomit–are carried out too many times.

The horror flick’s two leads, pretentious young star Raphaël (Finnegan Oldfield) and frivolous YouTuber Ava (Matilda Lutz), have their moments.

And Hazanavicius manages to bring in an element of danger in showing Nadia’s violent past she’s been trying to suppress.

The blood-soaked finale is too self-conscious for its own good, it’s more about seeing why and how all the fake blood gets used.

When Rémi gets sentimental about Romy–or Hazanavicius about his daughter — it’s not credible, even if a closing gag tries to tie that plot together.

There’s awkwardness in transposing a Japanese film to France, which the director justifies by showing Rémi’s efforts to woo his producers–until he makes a crack about Pearl Harbor, which is translated.

Ultimately, Final Cut is just a passable zombie movie, inhabiting what has become an overly familiar, well-worn genre.

Credits

Venue: Cannes Film Fest (Out of Competition, Opener)
Production companies: Getaway Films, La Classe Américaine, Sk Global Entertainment, France 2 Cinéma, Gaga Corporation
Cast: Romain Duris, Bérénice Bejo, Finnegan Oldfield, Matilda Lutz, Grégory Gadebois, Simone Hazanavicius, Raphaël Quenard, Sébastien Chassagne, Lyes Salem, Jean-Pascal Zadi
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Screenwriter: Michel Hazanavicius, based on the film “One Cut of the Dead” by Shinichiro Ueda, inspired by the play “Ghost in the Box” by Ryoichi Wada
Producers: Brahim Chioua, Alain de la Mata, Noémie Devide, Michael Hazanavicius, Vincent Maraval, John Penotti
Executive producers: Charlie Corwin, Florence Gastaud, Koji Ichihashi, Ted Johnson, Kilian Kerwin, Sidney Kimmel, Tom Yoda, Robert Friedland, Michael Hogan, Ted Johnson, Yuji Nakano, Riochi Wada, Olivier Thery Lapiney, Laurence Clerc
Director of photography: Jonathan Ricquebourg
Production designer: Joan Le Boru
Costumer designer: Virginie Montel
Editor: Mickael Dumontier
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Casting directors: Christel Baras, Judith Chalier
Sales: Wild Bunch International

Running time: 111 minutes