In Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ 2014 short film The Cut (La coupe in its original language), a father-daughter weekend seamlessly takes a turn from joyful to melancholy in a matter of fourteen minutes. We meet young Fannie as she playfully yet skillfully gives her father an at-home haircut. She moves with a relaxed ease, jokingly making small talk with her “customer” — she’s clearly done this before, and her father trusts her. An eruption of excitement ensues upon delivery of the news that a movie Fannie has been wanting to see is airing on the television later, and her father bought popcorn (with extra butter!) to make it a real movie night. Fannie hasn’t yet reached the age where spending Saturday night at home with her dad is uncool, and he is just as happy to be doing the same.
And then the phone rings. It’s for Fannie. She’s been invited to a birthday party, and someone can pick her up in ten minutes if she wants to come.
The tonal shift is practically immediate as Fannie is faced with the allure of a seemingly rare invitation, as well as the guilt of leaving her father alone. The father and daughter timidly talk through the logistics of the potential new plan (“There’s a lot of back and forth, driving you there.” “What if I go to Mom’s place on Sunday?”), and the heartbreak occurring within both characters is visceral. Fannie and her father both bear the burden of wanting to make the other happy, as well as the disappointment of an evening together coming to an abrupt end.
What makes The Cut all the more impressive and effective, beyond the remarkable performances, is the film’s lack of cuts — the entire film is one seamless take. It feels like a journal entry acted out in real time, expertly exploring that blurry, infrequently talked about space where children and parents rely equally upon each other but perhaps are too afraid to admit it out loud.
Find out more about The Cut / La coupe on the Colonelle Films website.