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Cutter's Way

Directed by Ivan Passer
On Fun City Edition Blu-Ray from Radiance Films

After an evening’s business, gigolo Richard Bone’s car breaks down in a darkened alleyway during torrential rainfall. Whilst contending with his knackered vehicle, he sees a shadowy figure park up behind him and dump something in the trash. As morning rolls around and a young woman’s contorted body is found in the trashcan, Bone is the police’s only hope of catching the killer but with the act taking place during heavy rainfall and at night, Bone was unable to get a clear look at the perpetrator. As he racks his brain for any sort of clue which might identify the person behind the murder, he sees who he believes to be the culprit at a town parade. Startled and surprised by who the murderer could be, one of the town’s richest and most influential businessmen, oil magnate J.J. Cord, Bone begins to doubt himself, but his best friend Alex Cutter is convinced that Bone’s suspicions are correct and attempts to expose Cord for the crime.

Neo-noir thriller CUTTER’S WAY, an adaptation of Newton Thornburg’s novel Cutter and Bone, focuses on a Vietnam war veteran suffering from PTSD and his best friend who try to make a positive difference in a world filled with true horror. Life hasn’t quite played out like they expected but the chance to bring a killer to justice might just be the ticket to redeem themselves and do an act of good in this corrupt world.

Jeff Bridges plays the quieter role of the dashing Richard Bone. Frightened of commitment and of opening himself up emotionally, he avoids relationships and pursues no strings attached dalliances with wealthy ladies when not working at the harbour. John Heard steals the show as his Vietnam veteran friend Alex Cutter, a man who’s more than paid the price for serving his country and is determined to seek justice and finds the opportunity to when Bone grows suspects untouchable, powerful businessman J.J. Cord as the murdering scumbag responsible for the horrific death of a young woman, but without a clear view of the culprit Bone’s evidence is flaky at best. Crippled both physically and mentally by the Vietnam war, in which he lost a leg, an arm and an eye, Cutter drowns out the pain of life with drink but the chance to make someone pay for the hurt they’ve caused breathes new life into Cutter and gives him something that is actually worth fighting for. Enlisting the help of a hesitant Bone and the grief-stricken sister of the victim, Cutter plans to expose Cord as the murderer, but is he actually guilty of the crime?

CUTTER’S WAY is a fascinating watch that runs much deeper than the murder mystery plot on the surface. Each of the characters we meet is broken in some way. Bone avoids decisions and commitment in any capacity, Cutter is angry at the politicians and the world for what he’s suffered, Cutter’s wife Mo is depressed and abused by the man she loves, dependent on drink to see her through – Each of the trio are troubled individuals but deep within lies a good heart in each of them, with life having turned out not the way they’d planned. We see a spark between Bone and Mo, hinting at a long-held flame between the two, perhaps whilst Cutter was serving in Vietnam or prior to Mo and Cutter’s relationship, but one that neither could commit to. Now Mo is stuck with a broken Cutter, who she still loves dearly (and likewise he loves her), but who are both in such a bad place that they’re destroying each other. They each want to help the other but are too broken themselves to do so.

This movie is such a deep and affecting watch, which has a lot to say on the war and reminded me in some ways of 1978 flick Coming Home starring Jon Voight as an injured war vet who realised the war wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Whilst both are anti-war movies in their own right, CUTTER’S WAY is a gritter take of the hurt and trauma that ensues long after the soldiers have come home. It’s tragic to see but is important to relay how life truly is for servicemen after the ‘welcome home’ has worn off, with no help and left to deal with the horror and ordeal they’ve gone through, physically and mentally. Cutter represents both in this movie.

As Cutter and Bone tussle between taking on oil magnate J.J. Cord or to let sleeping dogs lie, you start to question what you’d do in their situation. The culmination of the story is a striking one which you won’t forget in a hurry. It’s a natural conclusion, if a little outlandish in execution, but an ending that seemed quite fitting to this dark tale (and a thrilling one at that!).

Rating: ★★★★★★★★½☆

The Fun City Edition Blu-Ray of Cutter’s Way, available from Radiance Films, is a new 2K restoration from its 35mm interpositive and looks fantastic with the warm colours of sun-kissed Santa Barbara providing a terrific contrast to the dark and moody nature of the story.

The disc also comes loaded with a wealth of extras:

  • Isolated music track
  • Subtitles
  • Newly recorded audio commentary by novelist, screenwriter and critic Matthew Specktor, who shares his take on the film after first seeing it at age 14 before then watching it again at a double bill with Blow Out.
  • Archival audio commentary by film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
  • Archival audio commentary by assistant director Larry Franco and unit production manager Barrie Osborne
  • Mo’s Way – a newly filmed video interview with star Lisa Eichhorn (38 mins 53 secs) – Eichhorn talks about how she got into films, after ending up at Oxford and then getting into RADA upon advice of her friend Alan Rickman. She talks about lying she was half English to get her first film role with John Schlesinger before coming clean to him upon winning the role. She touches upon Yanks and her other films before getting into her experience working on Cutter’s Way.
  • From Cutter and Bone to Cutter’s Way (11 mins 16 secs) – a newly filmed audio interview with United Artists Classics exec Ira Deutchman, who was head of marketing at the time. He relaunched Cutter and Bone under the new title of Cutter’s Way, along with new poster and title font. Although it didn’t do so well first time round, the relaunch proved a success and Deutchman discusses this.
  • Cutter’s Way (37 mins 43 secs) – Archival video interview with director Ivan Passer
  • Two Plus One (17 mins 41 secs) – Archival video interview with writer Jeffrey Alan Fiskin, who from a young age had a knack for storytelling, and was selected by producer Paul Gurian to adapt the novel for the screen.
  • Gurian’s Way (26 mins 21 secs) – Archival video interview with producer Paul Gurian
  • Cut To The Bone (11 mins 55 secs) – Archival video featurette on the music of Cutter’s Way
  • Archival audio introduction by star Jeff Bridges (5 mins 42 secs) – this audio introduction has Bridges talk about getting involved with the film and the accident involving his dog, as well as working with Lisa Eichhorn and John Heard.
  • Archival video introduction by director Bertrand Tavernier (26 mins 27 secs) – this video introduction, which is subtitled, has Tavernier  talk about the director Ivan Passer as a filmmaker and the reception of Cutter’s Way.
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Gallery (17 mins 24 secs) – slideshow of stills
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About Bat 4416 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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