Short Cuts

Short Cuts ★★★★★

Short Cuts is jazz, is poetry, is the unfathomable tapestry of human life woven together as best it can be. It's all jagged edges and lost threads and rough textures meshing with the pulse of love and loss, the heat of anger, the tragic and often hilarious happenstance that shapes and defines the narratives we overlay, after the fact, upon our own paths.

There's no real beginning - we simply glide in over the pre-dawn sky of Los Angeles amidst a swarm of helicopters - and there's definitely no true ending, not to these people's stories. Not to our own. Some find catharsis, some find trouble, some find joy and laughter, some find devastation, and some wrench a bit of grace from the jaws of doom, but nobody gets out unscathed, and nobody's really done when the credits roll.

That's the main reason this movie feels so sharply alive, standing far above virtually all other mosaic-style experiences. It feels like we float into these damaged, messy lives for a weekend of voyeurism and then we leave just as airily, hovering back a bit further and further until suddenly we're gone. But it feels unmistakably like they will continue on.

There's real magic to the way Altman crafted a multitude of discrete Raymond Chandler stories into a single, sprawling feature. The characters weave in and out of each others' stories, the camera jumps between threads with match cuts, thematic mirrors, and a host of other cinematographic tools, and most of all, the imperfect web of connection vibrates with a sustained energy across and in between and straight through each and every character present. Some of the stories punch my heart out, some of them make me wince, practically watching through my fingers, and some of them feel like nothing less than the full blown experience of seeing life through another's eyes. The cumulative effect is astonishing, the kind of multi-course feast that leaves me spiritually full and emotionally drained, happy to put the film back on the shelf for a few more years at least. It's a lot to take in, but it's worth far more than you'd think its three hours could contain.

Block or Report

David liked these reviews