By Nathan Peterson
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Shea Whigham, Leslie Bibb, Tom Waits
Every now and then you come across a hidden gem. Something that not only is well crafted and enjoyable, but pretty original too. Wristcutters is one such film.
Based on the Etgar Keret short story, “Kneller’s Happy Campers”, the film follows Zia (Fugit) as he commits suicide following a bad break up and finds himself in a purgatory of sorts, solely occupied by those unhappy souls who decided that life was too much. This “afterlife way-station” is similar to our world, but just a little more depressing and less colourful.
As Zia adjusts to his new life, he meets Eugene (Whigham), a Russian rocker living with his family, who have all committed suicide for various reasons. Soon, Zia finds out that his ex-girlfriend Desiree (Bibb) killed herself shortly after Zia and that she is also in purgatory with him. What follows is a quirky road movie, as Zia and Eugene try to find Desiree, encountering strange people along the way, and picking up Mikal (Sossamon), a hitchhiker trying to find the people in charge as she feels she has found herself in this new Hell by mistake.
Up front, I loved the crap out of this movie. I am a sucker for quirky films, and this definitely fits the bill. From the unique characters, to the story, even down to the little things like the black hole under the passenger seat of Eugene’s car, this is a very unique and original movie. Throw in Tom Waits, who always makes interesting viewing and you have yourself one hell of an eccentric film.
As with most other independent movies, Wristcutters obviously has a modest budget, but that doesn’t hold it back. There are some decent and effective special effects used, for example when we see lit matches float up into the air (it will make sense when you see it), and even when the director (Goran Dukic) doesn’t have the budget to use more impressive effects, for example when we see the black hole, he opts for an obviously cheap alternative keeping in tone with the quirkiness and unique vision of the film.
As for acting, the entire ensemble put in solid performances, with special praise reserved for Whigham as the slightly unhinged Eugene. Anyone who has seen his work on Boardwalk Empire will know that he has acting chops, but this is such a far removed role from that one, it is hard to place him as the same actor. Some of the best quotes and moments come from him, and he makes a great foil for the somewhat straight-laced Zia.
Given the movie’s subject, I fully appreciate that anyone who has been directly (or even indirectly) affected by this type of tragedy may find the film in poor taste. However, I think that Dukic (who also wrote the screenplay) handles the matter of suicide very respectfully for the most part, and with the other events that occur through the film I think some may even find a kind of solace in it.
If you are like me and enjoy something out of the ordinary, then please check out Wristcutters. A truly black comedy, which may have the power to change lives!
4 out of 5