‘Cutter’s Way’ feels like a farewell to the ’70s: to honest political activism, social responsibility, excessive but essentially good-natured drug and alcohol abuse, Vietnam, California and the young Bridges. His character, Richard Bone, clings to his fading prime the way his best friend and mentor, crippled war veteran Alex Cutter (John Heard) clings to his walking stick. Together, the two men attempt to solve a murder, but that’s window dressing: this is a tale of friendship, endurance and loss, and one of the saddest movies ever made.
Everything in the film feels tuned to capturing this spirit: Czech director Ivan Passer’s use of late-summer light is rich and entrancing, while Bridges and Heard give their all: the latter delivers a performance of spectacular rage and intensity. The result is nothing less than a modern masterpiece, and a film ripe for rediscovery.