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STUDIO: Lions Gate
RUNNING TIME: 88 Minutes
- Audio Commentary
- Making the Final Cut: The Wristcutters Journey
- Deleted Scenes
- Director’s Storyboard Look-In
- Patrick’s On-Set Photo Gallery
Everything Is Illuminated meets What Dreams May Come without Cuba Gooding Jr. managing to be anyone’s progeny.
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Written and Directed by Goran Dukic
Starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Leslie Bibb, Tom Waits, John Hawkes, Will Arnett, Shea Whigham
Zia makes the decision to take his own life in an attempt to escape the hurt of his recent breakup with his girlfriend Desiree. What he wasn’t banking on was waking up in a bombed-out landscape as a punishment for his decision, destined to spend the rest of his life in the decaying desert setting of purgatory with other committers of suicide. However, he learns that Desiree also took her own life soon after Zia’s suicide and thus makes it his mission to find her in this new world and make a second attempt at happiness, or something approximating it in a land where humans aren’t physically able to smile. With the help of his only friend, the Russian musician Eugene, Zia sets out to find Desiree, but meets a lovely hitchhiker along the way, Mikal, who is looking for whoever is in charge of their setting in order to set straight her accidental suicide and make her way back to the land of the living.
Shea’s One Missed Call fandom had no place in the eight hour drive to catering.
The prime example to be taken from Wristcutters: A Love Story is the notion that a little scope can take you a long way. Not often does a true indie film manage to create an entirely new world that we haven’t really seen on screen before and still manage to give it the depth and texture that makes it come alive. Usually we’re confined to a few locations without much movement, and it doesn’t necessarily handcuff these films, it’s just a fact that the filmmakers have to deal with. What this particular film does is kind of incredible, making a road movie with multiple locations that paints a bleak but expressive portrait of this purgatory the characters are in. The locations and shot selection sell the purgatory as a rotted landscape of crumbling décor and sand-coated landscapes, and it all forms a cohesive whole and leaves the feeling of a sadly lived-in universe.
“We’re leavin’ together…but still it’s farewell!”
And it is important to have this scope because the story would feel slight without it. Shannon Sossamon and Patrick Fugit are very capable actors, but their laid back and laconic vibe could’ve given the production a lazy feel if we weren’t being taken through such a comprehensive landscape throughout. Even so, the episodic and easy-going vibe the film strikes works against the central relationships resonating as much as perhaps the filmmakers intended for it to. Fugit and Sossamon have an easygoing chemistry, but the setting overpowers the low wattage they generate.
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One of the only failings of the movie is that it feels a lot like Liev Schrieber’s directorial debut Everything is Illuminated. Same sort of road trip, and instead of actually casting Eugene Hutz (he of the greatest live band on Earth, Gogol Bordello) in the guide/friend role to the main character they cast Shea Whigham to play a Eugene Hutz stand-in. This leads to the movie feeling like well-worn territory at a few points, but Shea has enough likable energy in his performance to conquer the feeling that we’ve seen this done before. There’s also enough supporting platinum to keep the film rolling along, with solid contributions from Will Arnett, Tom Waits, John Hawkes, Leslie Bibb, Abraham Benrubi and Jake Busey all showing up and delivering some solid character acting in their bit parts adding flavor to the surroundings.
So even if the story ambles a little bit as it crosses the finish line, has a Deus Ex Waitsina to bring it there, and feels a little derivative of a recent road trip picture it’s still something well worth checking out. It creates a sustainable vibe and universe for its extremely likable characters to amble through, and manages to live up to the supposed paradox contained within its title, being thoughtful and caring towards its characters without dulling the film’s edges or the character’s actions. Strong recommendation for a film that deserves better than the fate it got.
The cover art is complete shitfritters: what the fuck is being displayed here? It kind of tries to be witty about the subject matter I guess, but it should’ve had a third directional arrow for “Vomit Asphyxiation From Terrible DVD Cover”. Plus, why is the shunting happening inside Sossamon’s knees? Fucking atrocious cover. However, the disc itself is surprisingly packed for a movie that didn’t ever see anything in the way of a theatrical audience, which is a pleasant surprise. There’s a nice laid-back commentary track featuring two of the leads, the director and the producer.