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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Maythew #5: Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

* 1/2

Director: Goran Dukic
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon

There is a moment - exactly one - when Wristcutters: A Love Story becomes totally awesome. That moment occurs when it is revealed that "the Messiah" who has been talked about since the beginning of the film but whose identity has been kept secret by shots that obscure or hide his face, is played by Will Arnett. If only the Messiah's miracle had been performed to the tune of "The Final Countdown." I guess I'll just have to wait for the Arrested Development movie.

For the most part Wristcutters: A Love Story takes place after the deaths of its characters. Zia (Patrick Fugit), distraught over his relationship with Desiree (Leslie Bibb), takes his life by cutting his wrists and wakes in a place that is not heaven but not quite hell, just a worse version of life. He finds that he still needs to have a job and a place to live, still needs to eat and drink, and that a lot of things are pretty much exactly as they were before. He's so bored that he considers committing suicide again, but thinks better of it when he considers that committing suicide in suiciders' purgatory might cause him to end up in an even worse place.

He becomes friends with Eugene (Shea Whigham), a Russian rock star whose entire family committed suicide and thus are all together in the afterlife. When Zia learns that his suicide prompted Desiree's suicide, he decides to go off to find her and reunite and talks Eugene into going with him on a road trip. Although he has no idea where Desiree would have ended up, he's somehow able to intuit what direction they should be going and along the way they pick up a hitchhiker named Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who insists that she's been sent there by accident since she didn't actually commit suicide. Eventually the trio ends up at the camp run by Kneller (Tom Waits), where Mikal's desire to see the people in charge and Zia's need to be reunited with Desiree converge.

Written and directed by Goran Dukic, Wristcutters occassionally displays a sharp, dark humor but the story itself is really lacking. It pretty much meanders from beginning to end and takes a long time to say very little. Although I think the cinematography by Vanja Cernjul is great, giving everything in the afterlife a washed out look that quickly and effectively establishes the atmosphere, that dullness ultimately permeates all other aspects of the film as well. There's no real spark here and as a result Wristcutters starts to fall flat almost as soon as it begins.

Matt's Thoughts: What I really want to know is, how does a turkey commit suicide? Or is its death also a mistake? Because seeing your thanksgiving dinner overdose would make for an incredible movie, in my humble opinion.

I understand that this film is a dark comedy, but part of the reason that the tone of the movie didn't quite hit the mark for me is the rule about smiling. Not only did they just introduce it at random, as though it were a well-known fact throughout the first half of the movie, but it kind of brought the story down for me. I knew going in that a movie wherein every character committed suicide wouldn't be happy-go-lucky, but I just sort of figured that they would be able to smile at some point. And after he had established that they were incapable of smiling in purgatory, he then finds his girlfriend and...they smile. Genuinely. Don't introduce me to an irritating rule and then break it.

I did enjoy it, even though I saw the ending coming from the get-go. And how pissed is his ex-girlfriend that, not only did his death lead to hers, but he then negated his own and replaced her with someone else? That's a spit in the face. But we're all okay with it.


The Film Connoisseur said...

So its awesome but dull? The idea behind it is cool though..

Norma Desmond said...

No, no. One moment was awesome. That rest of the movie was pretty blah.

Mike Lippert said...

I didn't like this movie either. I didn't find the story interesting and thought, just from a technical standpoint, it looked cheap as well. Tom Waits adds a little something special to the mix though.

Rachel said...

I completely agree with you on this one. In my review from a couple years ago, I also mentioned desperately wanting to hear "The Final Countdown" during the Messiah's miracle. They could've at least thrown us a chicken dance.

I was actually enjoying the movie until Waits character showed up. Then it all became too bizarre, even for its own premise.