Alright. So I’m starting to get a bit sick of writing and reading about the same movies all the time – especially when we’re talking about current movies. Yes, There Will Be Blood and The Dark Knight are amazing movies. But to make things a little more interesting, I’ve decided to start reviewing less well-known movies. Here’s my review for the 2007 indie film, Wristcutters: A Love Story.
Wristcutters: A Love Story examines the idea of purgatory for those who have attempted suicide. After slashing his wrists, Zia (Patrick Fugit) finds himself in a place that is much like earth, but merely a little more bleak and depressing. In the afterlife, he meets up with a self-destructive musician, and a girl, Mikal, who claims she is there by mistake. When Zia hears that his ex-girlfriend has also killed herself, the trio goes on a road trip in hopes of finding her. When they stumble across a mystical campsite run by a thespian (Tom Waits), things in the movie really take a turn for the weirder. Will Arnett even pops up in a really bizarre (and wildly miscast) role before the film finally finds a way to come to a satisfying conclusion.
Wristcutters is a thought-provoking, interesting film, but it suffers a bit from the odd, plot-heavy second half. I feel that the human interest slant of the film’s beginning was its stronger suit. One of the best scenes of the film takes place when Zia goes to dinner at his musician friend’s house, and discovers that his friend’s mother, father, and younger brother have also “offed” themselves, and they are all now living as a (sort of) happy family in this semi-Hell. This kind of black humour runs rampant through the entire film, and many scenes are genuinely funny. The aforementioned “love story” aspect is also very cute, and helps to lighten up the slightly cumbersome second half.
Though Patrick Fugit plays a character that is similar to his work in Almost Famous, I think Fugit does a great job here. Zia is very likeable, but also a bit of a sap, and Fugit probably plays a loveable fish-out-of-water better than any other actor his age. His wry delivery suits the film’s black humour, and I have to give Fugit a lot of credit for making grim subject matter unexpectedly fun. Strong supporting performances make the absurd story seem believable, as does the beautiful cinematography. The shots of the stark, depressing “American” landscape manage to be off-putting and beautiful at the same time.
The film itself is rather contradictory, and it seems like that’s its purpose. Suicide is shown in a very vivid way (we see exactly how many of the characters wound up in purgatory), yet the whole thing seems a little bit humorous, and almost beautiful. That’s not to say that the film glorifies suicide, but it takes a stance on it that’s both light-hearted and bleak, and manages to pull it off. The storyline about cult-ish religious fanaticism has been done to death (no pun intended), so that aspect seems less fresh, despite the fact that the film is examining it from the other side of the mortality line.
Wristcutters is not a perfect film, but it has so many positive attributes that a dud character here or there (sorry, Will Arnett. You’re still awesome.) and a bit of plot trouble doesn’t hold it back too much. The film’s really unique feel, along with great performances, make Wristcutters a must-see for anyone who enjoys offbeat movies, or who is just sick of the blandness that Hollywood usually offers up.