November 12, 2012

Movie Monday: Wristcutters: A Love Story

Wristcutters My dad saw Wristcutters when channel surfing one day and saved a copy on his Tivo because he figured I'd enjoy it.  And he was right.  The movie caught my attention from the beginning, wherein Zia (Patrick Fugit) cleans his apartment to a morbid Tom Waits song before committing suicide.  Wristcutters then reveals that he's working at Kamikaze Pizza in a sort of Purgatory for those who commit suicide.  It's basically our world, just a little worse.  No one smiles.  Most of what's broken can't be fixed.  It's boring.  But Zia gains new purpose when he finds out that his girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb) also committed suicide, meaning that they can reunite in the afterlife.

He sets off with his new friend Eugene (Shea Whigham) in a car with a black hole under the passenger's seat.  Pretty soon they pick up hitchhiker Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon, A Knight's Tale), who has great chemistry with Zia - which doesn't exactly jibe with his quest.  Wristcutters is a quest narrative, a road trip story, a romance, and ultimately less tragic than you might expect.  It's also extremely funny, with humor ranging from slapstick to black.  For example, most of the characters are established with a shot of how they offed themselves.  This is much funnier than you might expect.  (Which wouldn't be hard since it doesn't sound funny at all.)

Director Goran Dukic made a pretty good movie, despite the obviously indie-sized budget.  Some of the effects are laughable, but he does a good job of making the landscape seem otherworldly and slightly magic.  And the soundtrack is amazing.  In addition to Tom Waits (who plays a character in the movie as well as providing music), there's a bunch of Gogol Bordello and I love me some Gogol Bordello.  (Apparently the character of Eugene was inspired by the band's lead singer.)  And of course "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is popular in a Purgatory for suicides.

I haven't read the short story Wristcutters is based on ("Neller's Happy Campers" by Etgar Keret), but I want too in order to compare the two.  I hope the story is as funny, charming, and poignant as the movie.  But even if it isn't any good, I can just watch the movie again.  And I'm sure it will hold up to a second viewing.


  1. Oh, now this sounds INTERESTING. Like Wes Anderson meets Catastrophic History of You and Me... mmmm... I'm super intrigued... but... anything kind of suicide related is a weird topic for me... it makes me very... uncomfortable... but... OK, who am I kidding? I am totally picking this up if I can find it. I really enjoyed your review ;)

    1. That's a good description.

      I'll admit to not being very sensitive to suicide, but I think it was handled well for such a tough topic. The suicides don't go on to a heaven, but they aren't openly condemned either. But the movie is definitely on the side of living your life, not ending it.


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