Movie Review: Cut From Home

Cut From Home

Cut From Home, a bare-bones indie shot in Savannah, is a hard film to talk about. The characters aren’t people you would encounter in any other film. The subject matter is something that could easily lend itself to melodrama but doesn’t. It does everything it sets out to do. And it does it very well. Almost too well for the cast that the film relies on.

I wouldn’t hold that against Cut From Home, though. Sam (Sam Mallo) and Dani (Dani Niedzielski), two lost souls struggling to stay together as they drift around southern Georgia, would be difficult characters to portray for even the most well-trained actors. They are, as the promo material so aptly puts it, damaged people.

We are thrown into their story when they are at a breaking point, and we are only given flashes of the tragedy that brought them to the place they’re at when we first encounter them. To its credit, the film doesn’t betray the characters with romanticism. It’s realist, almost to a fault.

It may sound like I’m pulling punches, but Cut From Home left me with an ambivalence that’s hard to shake. The film is told from the perspective of Sam, a character who is hard to figure out in the beginning and frustrating at the end. But the film captures Sam honestly and without compromise. He hurts and can’t express it. He’s troubled and he can’t overcome it. Mallo, a non-professional actor, just lacks the nuance to lead us into the the darkest reaches of his character’s emotional abyss.

Thankfully director Jason Shahinfar and his director of photography Brian Udoff are able to convince me with their lens that the emotions unexpressed are both real and raw. The filmmaking style is not unlike that of new American realists like Bahrani or Fleck/Bodin. The camera is allowed to explore the surroundings in which these characters exist, finding moments of ethereal beauty in seemingly bleak locales.

Shahinfar is particularly brave for telling the story at all, but the way he tells it speaks to a boldness I wish I saw in more indies that come my way. Any hesitation I show over complimenting the film in its entirety because of casting choices doesn’t change the fact that there’s something special here. And I’d be shocked if you can’t see this film at a film festival near you in the future.

For more information on Cut From Home, visit


  1. Interesting. Will be watching and reviewing this very shortly. Looking forward to it.

  2. Thanks for this review. I will be looking out for this film.

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