Film Review



Cutter’s Way is so underrated it’s almost a joke. Terrific script by Jeffrey Fiskin, who also adapted Jim Harrison’s Revenge for the late, great Tony Scott, gritty and propulsive direction by Ivan Passer, and boasting an absolutely ferocious performance by John Heard (probably his best work) as a disabled Vietnam vet and a fantastic Jeff Bridges as best friends who get mixed up in a murder mystery when one of them accidentally witnesses a guy disposing of a dead body. Heard’s emotionally fragile and physically beleaguered character then gets an idea that might push stuff over the edge; I’m really trying to avoid any spoilers or too much of a plot description because this movie is so consistently awesome and I’d want anyone unfamiliar with it to track it down and have as little of an idea as possible about what they’ll see. Based on the novel Cutter and Bone (and released at one point under that title), the film premiered in 1981, and went criminally under the radar at the box office due to lack of marketing and confusion/turmoil at the studio; the film’s Wikipedia page highlights what happened to this cinematic diamond in the rough. Happily, Cutter’s Way has picked up cult status over the years, and it’s easy to see why. The material is politically charged without being preachy, it’s tense and terrific when it comes to action and dramatics, and the performances all sting with authenticity and force. Jordan Cronenweth handled cinematography chores, and as usual, the results were wonderful, while the score by Jack Nitzsche hits all the proper notes. The film has a tone that feels more 60’s/70’s rather than the 80’s, and the ambiguous nature of the narrative is a key highlight to the film’s success. Honestly, make it a double bill with Karel Reisz’s phenomenal and equally underappreciated Who’ll Stop the Rain, and then come and thank me for telling you to do so!

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