Nine short stories relocating the settings from Carver's Northwest to Los Angeles during a spraying of malathion brought on by a Medfly epidemic - intercut tales of disconnection and emotional emptiness. The stories concern variations upon the theme of Los Angeles angst --a happily married couple, Ann and Howard have to deal with the deep emotions felt when their child, Casey is struck by a car before his birthday and lapses into a coma, while the baker Andy of their child's neglected birthday cake sinks into a rage and torments them in their grief. Three men Stuart, Gordon and Vern leave on a much anticipated fishing trip, only to discover the drowned body of a nude woman floating in the river and decide to finish their fishing trip and ignore the corpse. A Los Angeles cop, Gene uses his badge as an excuse to cheat on his wife, Sherri. A pool cleaner Jerry resents his wife, Lois for her part-time job as a phone sex performer. A waitress, Doreen is devoted to her limousine driver ...Written by
When Honey and Gordon eye each other suspiciously after mixing up their photo envelopes, they try to find identifying information on each other. Gordon repeats the phone number he sees on Jerry Kaiser's car to remember it better, however the last 4 digits of number he is repeating differ from the actual phone number on Kaiser's car. See more »
Robert Altman has never shied away from casting every actor known to mankind in his films, and this is certainly true with his 1993 film "Short Cuts", a film set in Los Angeles over the course of a couple of days. In terms of primary actors, ones that had a substantial enough part to merit a supporting tag, I count at least 22; but more impressive than the sheer number of the cast is the fact that the film does not suffer from character overload, nor do their intertwining stories (and they are all separated by no more than one or two degrees).
I started this review by going through each character and the story each brings to the table, but after about three paragraphs worth of explanation, it is clear that it is not only a bad idea, but probably counterproductive to the review itself. "Short Cuts" is simply about human relationships, all of which seem to be completely unhealthy. The beauty of Altman's script and direction is that this isn't imminently apparent in all cases. Something as subtle as a sigh and a minor roll of the eyes speaks volumes in a film this well done. The acting in the film is, to be expected, great in most cases. Andie MacDowell, though not quite as insipid as usual, is still pretty bad, but gems like Lyle Lovett, Peter Gallagher, Tom Waits (who I am really biased toward) and a fairly fresh and new Julianne Moore more than make up for any minor acting mishaps.
There are not many films that are so involved that I simply throw up my hands at the prospect of doing my standard summary review for them, but "Short Cuts" is one of them. The script is compelling enough to easily sit through all 187 minutes of the film, the ending doesn't disappoint, and the film contains a cool jazz score. If you're a fan of ensemble films, this should be on your list. If you're an Altman fan, this should be on your short list because I consider it to be one of his best. 8/10 --Shelly
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