Sunday 17 June 2012

Short Cuts [1993]

After a long period of critical and popular hiatus, Robert Altman hit the jackpot with ThePlayer, and that, along with the following movie, viz. Short Cuts, begun the final, and second-most fruitful phase of his illustrious career. Employing the similar complex and sprawling structure he made fascinating use of in Nashville, he adapted a collection of short stories by Raymond Carver for this trenchant, textured and incisive examination of the intersecting lives of 22 Los Angeles inhabitants over the course of a few days. Altman made excellent use of a non-intrusive, minimalist style and meditative tone (again, reminiscent of his 1975 masterpiece) to portray its motley characters – a wealthy TV anchor (Bruce Davison), with whose drone-like voice the film begins), his mild-mannered wife (Andie MacDowell), young son, and guilt-ridden estranged father (Jack Lemmon); a rich doctor (Matthew Modine) and his liberated painter wife (Julianne Moore); a beautiful housewife (Madeleine Stowe) and her philandering policeman husband (Tim Robbins); a promiscuous divorced mother (Frances McDormand) and her jealous ex-husband (Peter Gallagear); a depressive waitress (Lily Tomlin) and her alcoholic husband (Tom Waits); a lonely middle-aged jazz singer (Annie Ross) and her cellist, self-destructive daughter (Lori Singer); a smooth-talking make-up artist (Robert Downey Jr.) and his besotted wife (Lili Taylor); a docile man (Chris Penn) and her vivacious wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who earns a few extra bucks through phone sex; a self-employed man who loves fishing (Fred Ward) and his fragile wife (Anne Archer) who works as a clown; et al. Brilliantly acted and comprising of a terrific soundtrack, this rich tapestry of diverse and myriad interconnected lives, was a disturbing, cynical and darkly funny critique of such themes as family, love, guilt, infidelity, loneliness, broken dreams, and loss.

Director: Robert Altman
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Family Drama/Existential Drama/Ensemble Film
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

There are several fascinating vignettes, the performances are uniformly excellent, and the realistic approach intensifies teh drama. As I recall some stories are better than others, but all in all it's still another significant achievement for Altman.

Shubhajit said...

Yeah, I completely agree that some of the vignettes were superior than the others. The one involving the Jazz singer & her suicidal daughter - that would rank as my favourite, followed by the Tim Robbins-Madeiline Stowe one. And Jack Lemmon's monologue too would be right up there. Altman did a really terrific job in smoothly binding such diverse stories & characters into a seamless whole.

Thanks Sam for stopping by.