Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Black Comedy, Romantic Comedy, Heaven-Can-Wait Fantasies  |   Release Date - Oct 19, 2007 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

For viewers inclined to let a movie's title dictate their interest, Wristcutters: A Love Story will be quite the surprise -- if, that is, they make it past the title to an actual viewing. Yes, it's about suicide victims trapped in a purgatory where they literally can't smile. But it's also whimsical, upbeat, and life-affirming, and the title -- a change from both the graphic novel (Kamikaze Pizza) and short story (Kneller's Happy Campers) -- perfectly encapsulates the movie's unusual duality. Its world view is plenty acerbic, but the film is also sweet enough to attract fans who'd normally give suicide movies a wide berth. In the world of Wristcutters, a person's decision to "off" is not punished by any ordinary Christian idea of Hell; rather, he or she is suddenly plunged into a shabby facsimile of the regular world, where everything is just a little dingier (and a lot less populated). It's not actually such a terrible place to spend eternity, especially since their former hopelessness has transformed into something hovering between resignation and indifference. As a bonus, this land is touched with the occasion minor miracle as well. Debut writer-director Goran Dukic seems to have an innate sense how to make these characters believably suicidal, but also grudgingly likable, as they compare stories, make wry observations, and still bear some evidence of their fatal self-inflected wounds. The film is also an excellent showcase for its amiable leads, Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, and Shea Whigham -- the last of whom plays a musician modeled after Eugene Hutz, lead singer of Gogol Bordello, the gypsy punk band whose music provides this film's perfect soundtrack. Dukic's mission doesn't seem to be anything so magnanimous as preventing people from killing themselves, but Wristcutters: A Love Story is so pleasing that it might just do that anyway.