It’s 2006, a very small indie dramedy about suicide is released. It stars the kid from Almost Famous, now looking much older, and features Tom Waits and Will Arnett playing a god like character. The premise is an original one and the film itself, with very little surprise is one of the sweetest films this generation has got. It’s 2013 and still, almost no one has seen it. Check it out why you should see it after the jump.
Zia (Patrick Fugit) has just experienced a nasty break up. His girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb) of many years has finally called it quits. His response? Suicide, of course. He slashes his wrists and ultimately dies, yet wakes up in a dreary wasteland type place reserved for people who have committed suicide, almost like a punishment which serves as their afterlife. Zia is stuck here and thus begins the strange journey of Wristcutters: A Love Story.
Zia’s afterlife existence consists of working at a pizza shop titled ‘Kamikaze Pizza’ and hanging out at the local bar down the road – that’s all there really is to do around this place. It’s a place where you can’t smile, colour is practically washed out from everything and everyone, is as they were before they killed themselves; very depressed. Things however aren’t all bad. He befriends Eugene (Shea Whigham) (Based on Eugene Hutz of the band Gogol Boredello), a Russian rock star who committed suicide on stage, who encourages Zia to go out and socialise as much as possible. Despite this encouragement, he still can’t stop thinking about Desiree; he even considers committing suicide again. But of course, where would that take him if this place is the result after a first attempt.
Zia then finds out that Desiree, unable to deal with the fact that her boyfriend killed herself because of her, also committed suicide shortly after he did. Upon hearing this Zia, along with Eugene, set out to find her. Along the way meet a hitchhiker, Mikal, a young woman who believes herself to be there “by mistake” and wants to take it up with those in charge of this strange afterlife. Does Zia find Desiree and discover true happiness again? Can Mikal get out of this depressing wasteland of an afterlife? And exactly who is the love story in the film’s title in regards to?
Wristcutters: A Love Story, is in this edition of the Forgotten, not just because it was forgotten but because it truly is one of the sweetest films you’ll ever see. Don’t let some of the strange events and indie road trip prospects fool you. This film embraces its audience and is more adamant on telling a love story and fleshing out characters (unintentional pun) rather than cashing in on the high concept premise. The originality of it is in its execution, not its presentation. These are all good people in search of a purpose or some form of happiness, and their suicide is only the beginning of their life. These are people in search of a life they believe they missed the point of in the one they departed from. This isn’t a spoiler or the end message, we get this the minute Zia enters this unnamed and sad limbo like world.
This is director Goran Dukic’s feature film début (he also wrote the screenplay), and in it every actor gives it their all. Remember they have to look depressed throughout the entire film without it feeling forced or resulting in annoyance for the audience: it’s not as easy as it may seem, and you believe them all and care about them almost instantly. The other great thing Dukic does is treat such a delicate theme like suicide with care and respect. The suicides presented in the film aren’t for comedic purposes, but more like a sad collage of how people resort to such desperate measures. For a film as sweet and cuddly as this one, you’ve never seen suicide handled in such an intelligent way.
Will Arnett (for those excited by that detail) is only in the film briefly, but he’s played as a god like character. That alone is worth 86 minutes of your time! The film was unfairly given an R18+ rating in Australia for “suicide themes” but I believe Wristcutters is safe for anyone over the age of 14, and it should be seen by most. Don’t let the rating fool you, nothing threatening or inappropriate is shown on screen.
This is that sweet film you’ve wanted to see when you’ve visited the cinema to see a film and feel better about life yet were sorely disappointed. It’s a film that almost hugs you before its even over, it embraces life and death and whispers in your ear “Relax, everything’s ok”… even if life is cherished in the afterlife.
By Chris Elena