Explore writer/director Michel Hazanavicius’s wonderful satirization of cinematic remakes via horror/comedy “Final Cut” via home video.

Of the complaints from audiences swirling around regarding Hollywood, the big ones usually refer to the lack of original ideas and the reliance on remakes, reboots, and sequels. Yes, movie-making is a business, so studios look for reliable intellectual property (IP) to bankroll everything else. The problem is, by leaning on these things, there’s a growing sense that nothing good can come from it. However, without remakes, we wouldn’t have classics like Little Shop of Horrors (1986), The Thing (1982), and Little Women (2019), to name a few. Joining their ranks is a surprising release from writer/director Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) which serves not only as a remake of a beloved low-budget horror comedy, but also satirizes remakes in such a unique way that one is left with a feeling of how great it would be to see other communities and cultures follow suit. After a bit of a tumultuous ride to theatrical release thanks to COVID-19, Hazanavicius’s Final Cut (Coupez!) is now coming to home video via Kino Lorber, bringing with it a spot-on featurette delving into the creation of this smart remake.

If you’d like to learn about Final Cut in a more spoiler-free capacity, head over to EoM Contributor Justin Waldman’s initial theatrical release review. Moving forward, we will not hesitate to dig into the guts of the film.

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A still from FINAL CUT. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

Small-time director Rémi (Romain Duris) is tapped by producer Mounir (Lyes Salem) to adapt the successful horror film One Cut of the Dead (カメラを止めるな!) for French audiences. It’s a task that he’s more than up for, but problems with the cast, the crew, and the original producer lead to one mess after another which come to a head on the day of the shoot. Can he somehow capture the magic of the original or will this be an absolute disaster?

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Romain Duris as Rémi/Higurashi in FINAL CUT. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

As someone who absolutely loves Shin’ichirô Ueda’s One Cut of the Dead, both as a touching family story and as a smart film about filmmaking, the idea that someone would remake it seemed unnecessary, especially considering how recent it was released and the established fan base that exists isn’t exactly clamoring for anything else. So imagine my confusion when Final Cut opens just as One Cut does, except this new all-French cast is referring to the cast by the Japanese names of their One Cut counterparts. Surely this can’t be right. Who would make such a strange choice? Then the dialogue is essentially the same, including bits about the war and the tainted ground. Why would you go through the trouble of gaining the rights to remake the film only to try to make the *exact* film? It’s this question that pulls the audience through the expected 30 min oner until the film proper begins and we get to see exactly how the film was made. In this case, the remake is plagued by cultural misunderstandings, such as Rémi misspeaking in the presence of Japanese producer Madame Matsuda (played by One Cut actor Donguri), causing some pettiness to arise leading to the clause *requiring* the remake to use the exact same names and premise. As each character discovers what they’re doing, Rémi tries to play it off so as to reduce tensions from the producers (he is the director and it does fall on him), but Rémi is hyper-aware of what the optics are. As a result of this and other interactions, much of Final Cut shifts from being an exact one-to-one of One Cut and transforms into an exploration of the responsibility of filmmakers who are adapting a prior work and the battle that often comes from the multiple voices involved in said process. Rémi wants nothing more than to make the film in the French way, but with each requirement placed upon him, that vision gets further away from him, yet Hazanavicius’s comes into sharper focus. This is particularly fascinating in the larger view as Final Cut rather unintentionally starts to inspire the question of what it would look like if other countries tried to remake One Cut and similar restrictions were applied? Can you imagine the exploration of cultural appropriation and trauma that could come from an American version of One Cut executed similarly to Final Cut? It would be *devastatingly* funny with the potential to hit Tropic Thunder (2008) levels of satire.

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L-R: Grégory Gadebois as Philippe/Hosoda and Matilda Lutz as Ava/Chinatsu in FINAL CUT. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

The other changes to the film are minor, the father/daughter relationship is relatively the same, the character of Nadia (Bérénice Bejo) is shifted slightly to account for her retirement from acting, and the connection between Rémi and Phillippe (Grégory Gadebois) is adjusted in a way that implies less of a lengthy friendship than in the original. Ultimately, the biggest change is the focus on the adaptation which is where Final Cut develops its richness, hilarity, and biting humor. Because of this, the portion of the film involving shooting the oner where we see how it all goes down, there’s more of a specific flavor brought about by Hazanavicius’s view.

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Bérénice Bejo as Nadia/Natsumi FINAL CUT. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

So what is that view? Thanks to the included 20-minute featurette titled “Making Of” within the disc options and “Guerilla Cinema: Behind the Scenes of Final Cut (Cinema Guerilla: Dans les coulisses de Coupez!)” when it begins, we actually get an answer to this. Hazanavicius explains how he’d always wanted to make a film about a film set and, after a producer friend, Noémie Devide (Oxygen), recommended he watch One Cut, he found his opportunity. He continues by explaining that he found his way into the film by approaching the narrative as a remake, thereby utilizing the meta-nature of the original to both make his film set movie while also investigating the nature of remakes themselves. Throughout the featurette, the primary interview with Hazanavicius and other members of the cast/crew is intercut with footage of cast preparation, on-location rehearsals to nail blocking, actual capturing of footage, and even a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes of the oner in spaces not captured on camera. As someone who enjoyed Hazanavicius’s approach, hearing from him about his approach to comedy (hire serious actors who mine humor from delivery not intention), his process of shot development (all 280 in the case of the oner) prior to shooting designed to allow for intuition to rule the set, as well as his high regard for what Ueda accomplished, one is able to tell the seriousness with which Hazanavicius approached Final Cut. This isn’t a matter of trying to recapture the zeitgeist, but to build off of it.

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A scene from FINAL CUT. Photo courtesy of Kino Lorber.

In a different way from One Cut of the Dead, Final Cut, too, is an incredible surprise. There’s an intentionality and specificity within each frame that serves to both honor the source material and satirize an industry that perpetually mines itself for “new ideas.” Certainly for every Little Shop there is also a Rollerball (2002) or Flatliners (2017), but what enables Final Cut to side-step this is that it’s not just copying the total narrative, it applies a local view to the central family story within the façade of the source material. Doing this, alongside mining comedy out of the adaptation process, makes Final Cut unique as a remake in that it’s more of a spiritual sequel that can be watched either alongside of or absent the first incarnation. Personally, I say bring on more remakes of One Cut just as long as this turns into a Russian doll-esque experience, wherein each new film is an adaptation of the one before it, enabling the films to take on more than just the technical execution and narrative needs of One Cut. The possibilities of what could be all begin with Hazanavicius’s idea and that, itself, is worth the exploration.

Final Cut Special Features:

  • Making-of Documentary (20:08)
  • Theatrical Trailer

Available on Blu-ray and DVD September 12th, 2023.

For more information, head to the official Kino Lorber Final Cut theatrical webpage.
To purchase, head to the official Kino Lorber Final Cut home release webpage.

Final Score: 4 out of 5.


Categories: Films To Watch, Home Release, Home Video, Recommendation, Reviews

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