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Where did the flair go?

OUT NOW! Although technically impressive and historically edifying, Fatih Akin's newest film, THE CUT, doesn't quite, well, make the cut.

The Cut is a blow-by-blow account of a man’s journey out of enslavement in search of his family against the background of the Armenian genocide in the Ottoman Empire during WWI. Neutrally descriptive, squarely procedural, the flair and nimbleness that one has come to expect from Akin’s work is missing. There’s no denying the admirable intentions of the filmmaker to recreate a past fraught with injustice and misfortune, but what he achieves here more closely resembles an exposé or historical document than a cinematic piece. Tech work on the film is remarkable all around. Transportive production design gives the picture a texture, almost a fragrance from another time. The cinematography dutifully captures the stunning vista of sprawling deserts or a bustling Havana. A highlight is the dazzling, hypnotic score, whose electric guitar/bass-laced main theme trembles with violence and exudes an exotic menace that at first seems like an odd fit for the movie, but in fact brings out the angriness of a fateful, forgotten epoch.

Patiently told, beautifully designed and shot, this is an enjoyable multi-continental production that’s too mild for its own good. Lacking the force and/or fun of the auteur’s earlier work, it might be Akin’s softest yet.

The Cut | Directed by Fatih Akin (Germany 2014) with Tahar Rahim. Starts October 16.

Originally published in issue #131, October 2014.