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Wristcutters: A Love Story

Wristcutters: A Love Story

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Wristcutters Featurette; Director’s Commentary; Storyboard Comparisons; Deleted Scenes; Trailer.

THE afterlife for suicide victims is “just like it was before, only a little worse”, according to Goran Dukic’s wonderfully surreal comedy Wristcutters: A Love Story.

But for those lucky enough to find this indie gem (a past audience favourite at festivals like Sundance), the storu that unfolds offers a rich, quirky, even life-affirming experience.

The film picks up as Zia (Patrick Fugit) finds himself in the afterlife after slitting his wrists in despair over the recent break-up of a relationship.

Once there, he hooks up with former Russian rock star Eugene (Shea Whigham) who offed himself mid-concert by pouring beer all over his electric guitar. Eugene, however, has managed to reunite with his family, all of whom took their own lives.

When Zia hears that his ex-girlfriend has also committed suicide, he heads off to find her with Eugene in tow and a quirky road trip ensues during which they pick up beautiful hitchhiker Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who claims she has found the afterlife by mistake, and encounter several colourful characters (including Tom Waits’ grizzled miracle worker).

Based on the short story Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret and co-written by Dukic, the film effortlessly rises above its potentially depressing premise to provide film fans with a genuinely inventive ride. Characters are richly drawn and more than a little quirky (no one is able to smile) but it’s easy to warm to their heartache and turmoil.

Fugit, in particular, makes an appealing romantic lead (of sorts), especially when struggling to reconcile his feelings for his ex-love after falling for Mikal en-route, while Whigham is effortlessly charismatic as the temperamental Eugene (a character supposedly based on Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz). Sossamon offers an alluring presence as Mikal and Waits enjoys some wonderful moments as the afterlife veteran who could hold an unlikely key to salvation.

Just occasionally, the budget constraints are cruelly exposed (especially during scenes involving a black hole in Eugene’s car) but audiences should be too invested in this surreal world to notice – and there are plenty of nice touches to help ensure that the ride never becomes dull (whether it’s taking note of the limited selections on a jukebox or dwelling on some of the curious observations of its inhabitants).

And with a final scene that’s guaranteed to melt the heart, Wristcutters really does finish with a flourish that leaves you feeling surprisingly upbeat.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 84mins
UK DVD Release: May 26, 2008