It may be rather morbid, but there are a slew of rather smart flicks about the dark world of suicide. Heathers, the quintessential mean-girl movie, and The Virgin Suicides, arguably Sofia Coppola's strongest film, are two such examples. And while Wristcutters: A Love Story, is not as deliciously evil as Heathers nor as visually lush as The Virgin Suicides, it does join the rank of intelligent movies about this depressing topic.
The film follows Zia, played by Patrick Fugit, best known for his starring role in Almost Famous, a young man so distraught over a failed relationship, he decides to kill himself in the opening scene. This is such an impactful way to begin the film, not unlike the powerful first scenes of Carrie or Y Tu Mamá También. From there, the film follows Zia as he is transported to an odd version of hell that he shares solely with other suicide victims. It's a hell that is almost identical to the life he just left, just slightly worse. He works at a pizza joint, appropriately named Kamikaze, and spends his days with an ex-Russian rocker named Eugene. Sound depressing? It is! The movie isn't all bleak, to find out why
Leave it to the women of the film to add some luminance to this otherwise dark movie. Desiree, played by Popular alum Leslie Bibb, is the reason Zia committed suicide, and when he finds out that she too has ended her life, he goes on a road trip to find his long-lost love. It is here that Wristcutters transforms from a rather dull flick (powerful opening scene withstanding) into a modern day The Wizard of Oz.
Okay, I know what you're thinking, The Wizard of Oz, really? Obviously, this film is not an instant classic, but the storyline does take an Ozian turn when the two boys pick up hitchhiker Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) who just wants to go home. And to do that she needs to meet the wizard, I mean, the man in charge. It is when the trio finally do meet the man in charge, hysterically portrayed by Arrested Development's Will Arnett, that Zia is reunited with Desiree. But, not surprisingly, he has already fallen for our Dorothy, Mikal. Dorothy or Desiree; Desiree or Dorothy? Decisions, decisions!
Tough choices aside, the love triangle was compelling to watch; but because the movie was so focused on absurd realism and did not have the visual punch of other absurdist films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or The Science of Sleep, I was left wanting more, perhaps the budget of a Michel Gondry film.
Photos courtesy of Autonomous Films