Fine Line Features | Release Date: October 3, 1993
7.2
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Generally favorable reviews based on 48 Ratings
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36
Mixed:
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Negative:
10
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3
KathleenH.Apr 22, 2008
Sure, the intertwining of stories is masterful and the cast incredible. But the characters are such terrible people. And worse than that, from a movie point of view, they're boring people too. Why would I want to spend any time at all Sure, the intertwining of stories is masterful and the cast incredible. But the characters are such terrible people. And worse than that, from a movie point of view, they're boring people too. Why would I want to spend any time at all with any of them? They're shallow, pretentious, deceitful, manipulative, ridiculously unperceptive, and ... boring. Watching characters like that fumble through their empty lives and their pointless, nasty marriages isn't illuminating or interesting; it's just ... a boring waste of time. Expand
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10
ArhiMar 8, 2006
This is a European film in America. Strong and copied many times (Crash, Magnolia).
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9
ellenp.May 15, 2008
This film is brilliant. Many haven't realized that, what Altman did was to translate Carver's writing style into audiovisual language. Dirty Realism into film. The characters meant to be shallow, because the meaning is dictated by This film is brilliant. Many haven't realized that, what Altman did was to translate Carver's writing style into audiovisual language. Dirty Realism into film. The characters meant to be shallow, because the meaning is dictated by the context. Expand
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10
freakyteaNov 2, 2010
I love this movie. It's a truly magnificent piece of art, and it changed the way I thought about movies. Perhaps it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy challenging, thought-provoking cinema, you must give yourself a chance toI love this movie. It's a truly magnificent piece of art, and it changed the way I thought about movies. Perhaps it isn't everyone's cup of tea, but if you enjoy challenging, thought-provoking cinema, you must give yourself a chance to savor this masterpiece. Expand
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9
SpangleJan 21, 2017
An ambitious, cynical, and character driven film, Short Cuts is loosely plotted, but always engaging. Critiquing modern society, marriages, infidelity, and more, Short Cuts is a film with a ton of moving pieces, courtesy of a variety ofAn ambitious, cynical, and character driven film, Short Cuts is loosely plotted, but always engaging. Critiquing modern society, marriages, infidelity, and more, Short Cuts is a film with a ton of moving pieces, courtesy of a variety of storylines. Each storyline and set of characters interacts with others in very natural ways that link their stories. Above all, it really shows how flawed we all are and the fragility, mistrust, and lies, that permeate modern day marriage. Through these vignettes, it quickly becomes clear that Altman has a very cynical opinion towards modern day marriage and people's ability to remain faithful to their spouse and not act in their own self-interest.

One of the best portions of this film is the acting. With such a large cast, obviously there are a lot of terrific actors and boy do they every display it in this film. Leading the way is Julianne Moore. As an eccentric artist who largely paints nude women, she portrays Marian Wyman. Married to Dr. Ralph Wyman (Matthew Modine), she and Modine share one of the best scenes in the film. Confronting his wife about an event three years ago when he believes she cheated on him, the moment is intense and incredibly powerful. Moore's performance in this moment really hits a fever pitch of intensity and emotional rawness that define her character. She is very open throughout and even does this scene without her pants, which really shows what makes her character tick. She is raw and a passionate person and Moore really captures this brilliantly, especially in this moment. Alongside her, Jennifer Jason Leigh is often scene stealing here. Appearing as Lois Kaiser, a married mother of two who is a sex line worker, one of the funniest encounters of the film is her talking dirty to a customer, which upsets her husband. Wondering why she does not talk to him like that, her reaction to this apparent absurdity and comical reaction to her work is hysterically put together, bolstered by Leigh's performance.

Yet, what is really impressive is the writing. Thinly plotted, the film is never anything less than engrossing. It keeps you fully engaged and entertained throughout because of the writing. The characters are nuanced, with most of them being neither fully good or bad. They all act, talk, and walk like real people. Robert Altman introduces a variety of characters and uses them brilliantly to explore the state of marriage and the turmoil that ensues. Issues regarding infidelity, different desires, lack of passion, death of children, and depression, all ensue and are beautifully depicted. The acting helps here, as it is all very grounded and authentic, but the writing is really what creates this impact. Instead of introducing storylines and dropping them, Altman delves into them and shows them from varying perspectives. In one relationship, a man cheats. In another, the woman cheats. How is the dynamic different? This is explored in Short Cuts, as well as other marital issues that can arise. All are given the heft and weight they demand, which is a real treat to watch unfold.

For a three hour long film, Short Cuts honestly feel quite short. Its acting and writing is so engrossing, it never slacks. Compared to Altman's past film of this type, Nashville, it is hypnotic. While Nashville is a great film, it does sometimes feel its length. Short Cuts, however, is streamlined and consistently powerful. That said, the comparisons to Nashville are apt as they are not just Altman films, but both use music in interesting fashions. Through Tess Trainer (Annie Ross) and her singing in a club, which brings a few characters into the bar, we hear songs such as "To Hell with Love" or "Prisoner of Life". Thematically, these are great fits as the film largely explores the pain that can come from marriage and the problems that arise. Yet, having a spouse and kids, as most of the characters do, can leave one feeling trapped and stuck with their current way of life, even if its unhappy. This is a constant in Altman's films and Short Cuts is hardly an exception as, though he explores dark themes here, it is done through music and the musical choices accentuate the thematic excursions.

A poetic and moving look at life, marriage, and death, the film explores issues that can arise once we are married. The animosity, loss of passion, or infidelity, that plagues modern marriages are on full display in Short Cuts with brilliant writing and acting to boot, which does its sensitive subject tremendous justice. Honestly, this is as near to a masterpiece as I have seen in my mild binge on Robert Altman in the past few weeks.
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10
BlakePNov 1, 2012
Sure many of the characters in "Short Cuts" are bad people, but that doesn't stop this ensemble film from being creative, funny, and tragic, all at once. Robert Altman is the man to go to for films like this, and if "Nashville" left youSure many of the characters in "Short Cuts" are bad people, but that doesn't stop this ensemble film from being creative, funny, and tragic, all at once. Robert Altman is the man to go to for films like this, and if "Nashville" left you stunned, "Short Cuts" will live your mouth open. He connects these characters, all portrayed excellently by the stunning cast, in such genius ways, and the stories themselves are all unique in some way or another. With standout performances from Andie MacDowell, Tim Robbins, and Julianne Moore, "Short Cuts" is one of my favorite films from the '90's. Expand
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10
borderlinefilmsFeb 4, 2015
This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Tripping Over Ourselves

While there's no cinematic equivalent to the Mona Lisa, I submit a list of the top ten American movies of the last 50 years in no particular order:

The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Raging Bull, Pulp Fiction, Blade Runner, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Mulholland Drive, Tree of Life, Boyhood, Short Cuts.

Whaaaaaa... Short Cuts? Is it even Altman's best work? Well, everything unique and original in the other movies on this list was done before... by Altman. (Is there anything the man hasn't tried?) And everything Altman achieved in his career can be summed up in Short Cuts.

Five of the entries on my list are genre intact: gangster, war, bio, sci-fi, adventure. Lynch is a genre of his own (a master of hook and subvert), Pulp Fiction is pomo-noir with a swagger, Tree of Life, an audacious and transcendent poem, Boyhood, literally an epic achievement of dedication and commitment. Short Cuts doesn't seem to fit in as it is merely an observation of lives and love. But what observations! What lives! What heartbreaking affection. All underscored with a resonating heartbeat patching into so many paths, teetering on the brink of disaster and threatening to explode, which it does, in the form of a climactic planetary stroke. Nothing brings people together quite like a natural disaster. An earthquake, tremoring just enough to inform us of our place in history on the cosmic map. Enough to bring us down to earth, reboot our egos, and put multiple perspectives in perspective. Enough to appreciate the simple state of being.

A larger-than-life baroque master is at the helm, warbling out contrapuntal narratives and swirling themes orchestrated to perfection. Multiple story-lines wavering under one very singular umbrella. And under Altman's protective cover the talent runs free and easy, playful and experimental, ironic and sincere. The key characters in one story become walk-throughs in another, paradoxically tethered and disconnected from the self, from family, community, and life. Boundaries are crossed and souls get lost. We're all the same if only by not knowing what our needs are or why we're even here. With nothing to say except everything is exceptional, infinite and empty. And life is short. Shorts Cuts of scenes stories words actions desire love loss lies lust faith wonder and devotion. Heck, I'd see it again only to watch Tom Waits and Lily Tomlin shack up.

Some movies claim to be infinitely entertaining, some maintain they can be viewed repeatedly without losing their initial charm, some insist they never age, I know only one that can lay claim to all such conceits. Short Cuts is like falling in love. It delivers quietly, wonderfully, naturally, tenderly, simply and deeply.
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