Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WRISTCUTTERS: it only works when it doesn't matter

site | trailer
WRISTCUTTERS: A LOVE STORY. Caught this at the Kendall tonight on my own. A charming bit of romantic misadventure in an afterlife reserved specially for those who have taken themselves out of the game. Enter Zia (Patrick Fugit, of ALMOST FAMOUS). Depressed, lovelorn, heartbroken by his lady, Desiree. He gets out of bed one day and decides to leave it all behind, but proper. He takes the day to clean house, chuck the trash, put everything in its place, dust-free, have one last look out the window at an otherwise lovely day out, and then slash the ol' handnecks.

And that's where the story starts. He finds that the afterlife, or at least, his afterlife, is pretty much like the beforelife, only crappier, more worn out, and even more joyless. It takes a while, but he's almost settled in and okay with this new non-life. He's got a crummy job, hangs out at bars in his time off, and has even made a best friend, Eugene, who in his previous life was a Russian immigrant and unaccomplished rock star. The one thing that haunts young Zia in his death is the one that haunted him in life—his lost love, Desiree. When he runs into an old acquaintance from life, he learns that Desiree went and offed herself a month after he did, which means his beloved, his reason for living, and dying, was sharing his sentence in suicide purgatory. With that, he hits the road with Eugene in search of Desiree, claiming he can "feel" her presence somewhere in the desert wilds outside of town. On the road they encounter many characters, and pick up a hitchhiker, Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon, of KNIGHT'S TALE), who is on a quest of her own, to find the People In Charge and plead her case and win a return trip back to the beforelife. Wacky fun ensues.

Be warned, there are several graphic depictions of suicides. I guess this film would be categorized as a "dark comedy," but really, for me, it's charming fantasy quirk. That's what this film has got. A few people off themselves. It's not the end of the world! Sit back and enjoy it! The premise of an underpowered more-of-the-same afterlife is a simple what-if creative winner for me, but throw in a love reunited by suicide, a commune for trivial miracle workers, essay questions at the gas station, a self-proclaimed messiah (played more by G.O.B. Bluth than Will Arnett, but that's a good thing =), and a black hole in a station wagon, well, what more could you ask for?

The eclectic and talented cast of suicide players has many fun familiar faces, including Leslie Bibb (Shannon, from LOST), Jake Busey (STARSHIP TROOPERS), and Tom Waits (Tom Waits =).

It's sweet to watch Mikal rebel against the joyless, smileless nature of the place by vandalizing warning and direction signs everywhere she goes.

I really like the portrayal of Zia's last hours of life. The whole cleaning thing. It's very respectful, you ask me. The notion of suicide came up in conversation a couple weeks ago and it's exactly how I thought it should be done, if you're going to be proper and just plain civil about it, y'know? I thought his very last moment was quietly frickin hilarious. Ask me if you want the details. It's not a huge thing, but I really appreciated it and don't want to spoil it for anyone else here.

Gotta say, the filmmakers found some amazing sites to shoot to push the run-down setting of the suicides' afterlife. Along the roadside, you'll find husks of cabins, sprawling power stations, massive electric towers, and deserted cars, half buried in ditches. Desolate, but kind of picturesque (there's a lovely, and ultimately funny, moonlight scene). The movie has got the style of this afterlife nailed.

A little bit of movie deja vu... WRISTCUTTERS reminded me of SIX-STRING SAMURAI somehow... In texture, or flavor. The spent world of an environment, the road trip thru desert wilds, and the stops along the way, and probably the rock ballads by the Russian rocker playing on cassette in the car. Not a bad thing to be reminded of.

Just say yes to the kooky premise of WRISTCUTTERS's concept of the afterlife, and everything else about the movie will fall into place. You'll dig this dead buddy picture/road movie. The Kendall only has it thru Thursday night, so get over there quicklike to check it out.

Keep on keepin on~

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