film review: Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

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Don’t know where I’d heard of this film… I think it was probably when I was browsing through Leslie Bibb‘s filmography while doing the Iron Man review… Anyway wherever I heard of it, I thought it sounded interesting but I put it down as a film I’d never see – didn’t seem like the type that would turn up in the local video store. I was wrong, so here’s the review!

Wristcutters: A Love Story is set in an afterlife for people who’ve committed suicide. It’s a different kind of afterlife from the traditional winged one (be it above or below)… instead it is, in the words of our main character, “… basically the real world, just crappier”.

Zia (Patrick Fugit, best known from Almost Famous, just in case you’re wondering where you might have seen him before.) is a young man who’s committed suicide because his girlfriend Desiree (Bibb), has left him… their relationship isn’t particularly important though. Whatever happened before, he has ended up in this afterlife, working in a pizza parlour, living in a crappy apartment and just existing. So far, so dull – well no actually, the film is interesting so far… A chance encounter in the local supermarket leads Zia to discover that his former girlfriend took her own life a little while after he did. Given that he still has little else to “live” for he decides to take off with his interesting Russian rocker friend Eugene (played by Shea Whigham). While on the road they meet an outwardly interesting young lady called Mikal (played by Shannyn Sossamon) who’s on a mission to find the “People In Charge” and explain why she shouldn’t be there So far, so interesting – well no actually, this is where the film starts to fall down…

I wanted to like this film… it has lots of interesting ideas, most of which are hinted at early on. Its problems start when they get on the road… from there on in it loses steam… it seems to flounder, the director takes a while to pick the idea he wanted to centre on and in my opinion he picked the wrong one. Then again maybe my expectations were to blame, I thought I was going to see an indie film exploring, I don’t know, ideas and concepts – stuff about suicide, naivety of youth, friendship, life after death – the kind of stuff you expect and indie film to cover. I expected it to be smart, funny and quirky… you know, a good indie film… and for a while it looked like it was going that way. Then all of a sudden, to my horror Goran Dukic got lazy and just decided to turn it into a love story. Now I shouldn’t have been surprised – the clue was in the title… but I don’t know, I just hadn’t expected it to be nothing more than a love story in the end. I try so hard to not expect anything of the films I watch, it just sets you up for disappointment… but sometimes… you just can’t help it.

Wristcutters: A Love Story just wasn’t what I wanted it to be at all and while all the little ideas and side characters made it an enjoyable watch; overall it just didn’t live up to the awards and nominations it garnered. I really should have learned after that abominable The Aryan Couple that film festival awards count for nothing and that the only ratings that are worth any consideration and IMDb ratings (after DVD releases) and!

Quickly, to address the other stuff… the acting was commendable, the cinematography and art direction were great. Special mention as well to Will Arnett, I always find him entertaining and his appearence was a well needed laugh, even though the idea behind it did have a feel of an after thought… Overall I’m actually going to give it a decent enough rating because actually it wasn’t a bad film at all. For all my complaints about it, the main thing I didn’t like was the love story – I wasn’t expecting it when I really have no excuse – after all, it was in the title!!


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