Strand Releasing
Reviewed by: Harvey Karten for Shockya. Databased on Rotten Tomatoes.
Grade: B
Director:  Fatih Akin
Written by: Fatih Akin, Mardik Martin
Cast: Tahar Rahim, Simon Abkarian, Makram Khoury, Hindi Zahra, Kevork Malikyan, Moritz Bleibtreu
Screened at: Critics’ link, NYC, 9/5/15
Opens:  September 18, 2015

Nowadays when so many children in America seem eager to get as far away from their parents as they can, the Hamburg-born, Turkish director Fatih Akin, who wrote “The Cut” as well, presents us with a more sanguine idea.  In this slow-moving film, two young women would like nothing better to run into their father, missing for years when he was pulled away from his home in the Ottoman Empire during World War I when the Turks fought on the “wrong side” and drafted into the army to break rocks like members of a chain gang.

“The Cut” stars French actor Tahir Rahim, best known for his lead role in Thomas Audiard’s “A Prophet,” which concerns a young  Arab man sent to a French prison where he becomes a mafia kingpin.  Here, Rahim performs in the role of Nazaret Manoogian, a blacksmith from a Turkish village close to the Syrian border who is destined to travel far from his home in the Middle East all the way to Minneapolis and North Dakota in search of his daughters Lucinée (Dina Fakhoury) and Arsinée (Zein Fakhoury).

While he works with a crew, guarded by Turkish soldiers, he is confronted by bandits who slit everyone’s throat, though Nazaret survives with only a torn vocal cord because the Turkish bandit assigned to kill him shows mercy.  What follows is a long, casually directed road-and-buddy movie, the buddies that Nazaret is fortunate to run into on his travels
being a crew of Bedouins.  Without disclosing his Armenian identity, he winds up working for a soap manufacturer (Makram J. Khoury) and notes with joy that the Ottomans, after losing World War I, are chased out of their villages.

While watching Charlie Chaplin’s “The Kid”—which some first-time moviegoers consider the “work of the devil,” he is reminded of his own daughters at which point is hitches rides on boats and trains from his homeland to Havana, Florida, Minneapolis and North Dakota, overcoming the difficulty of communicating with sign language and by showing pictures of the young women.

Since Nazaret appears in virtually every scene, the characters he finds on the road are given little chance for development.  As a road movie, Fatih Akin’s attempt at epic grandeur is on the generic side, though Rainer Klausmann behind the lenses shoots in Alberta, Malta, Jordan and Germany with some fine sets designed in Germany’s Babelsberg studio.  Because the hero is mute, an audience may find it difficult to empathize, particularly since Rahim shows only basic emotions.  For those moviegoers with the patience to sit through a long, slowly developed road trip, “The Cut” provides reasonable insight into what had befallen humanity in one area of the world during the First World War.

Unrated.  138 minutes.  © Harvey Karten, Member, New York Film Critics Online

Story – B+
Acting – B
Technical – B
Overall – B


By Harvey Karten

Harvey Karten is the founder of the The New York Film Critics Online (NYFCO) an organization composed of Internet film critics based in New York City. The group meets once a year, in December, for voting on its annual NYFCO Awards.

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