This epic of genocide, exile, and fortitude offers raw emotion and marvelous vistas — and is also a demanding sit, as epics of genocide and exile probably should be.
Director Fatih Akin has taken on 1915’s Armenian genocide, but his ambitious film isn’t just interested in harrowing us with mass slaughter, though that material is effective. The Cut‘s mold-breaking second half follows father Nazaret (Tahar Rahim), mute after a stabbing from a Turkish soldier, traveling the globe in search of the twin daughters he lost in the conflict — adorable girls introduced in the film’s worst scene, when, on a pre-war family jaunt, Nazaret spies a crane overhead and notes that this is a portent of “going on a long journey.”
That journey goes on longer than you might expect, proving dangerous and frustrating: Nazaret scraps his way to Havana and then into the United States, forever one city behind the last remains of his family. The story wears on, but the photography (captured by cinematographer Rainer Klausmann) is wonderful, this world of trains and wilderness rendered beautiful and terrifying, the deserts of the first half echoed in deadly majesty by the snowscapes of the ending.
Ultimately, the film’s wearying qualities pay off both as verisimilitude — you do feel like you’ve been through something — and as awe-inspiring history, making visceral art out of a global migration. Ever wondered why you can find traditional Armenian food at cafés while road-tripping the Dakotas? See The Cut.
Directed by Fatih Akin
Opens September 18, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas and Landmark Sunshine
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 15, 2015