I was totally emo back in 2008 when i saw this film in the new release section of my DVD store. It was the awesome art work combined with the titles obvious use of conflicting images that drew me to it but what I found when I sat down to watch it was something quite fabulous. I've told countless people to watch it and forcibly left copies in peoples homes so I think it is right that it gets the blahblahblah treatment.
Goran Dukic's debut feature is based on the short story "Kneller's Happy Campers" by Israeli writer Etgar Keret and stars Patrick Fugit who made his debut in Almost Famous and has since become a greasy slacker in almost all of his movies (Spun, White Oleander, Cirque Du Freak,) Shea Whigham, a name that i seem to see all of the time recently but would be hard pushed to recognise him or any of his roles and Shannyn Sossamon, great in Rules of Attraction and her tiny little role in the spectacularly fun Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Backing them up amongst others are Tom Waits and Will Arnett.
I really love sharing the artwork on this blog. It's not something I have any education in or anything I just find the comparisons extremely appealing and interesting. The comparisons here are especially fun I think. Clockwise from top left we have the original cinematic poster which was also the main sleeve on the DVD i first saw, there's a soft spot for this art in my memory. It fits lots of key information in to that one small relatively simple print. Road signs are obviously simple devices to tell you whats coming (that's why the people of Perth choose to drive so badly, they can't understand an obvious road sign, but I digress) black on yellow forearm, red cut on the wrist and blood drops in the shape of hearts. Come on! It doesn't get much more emo than that. Second one is more of an arthouse design, very trendy don't you think, I would definitely have thought about watching the film based on that. Third one is merely so-so and is in fact the sleeve of my dvd but my absolute favourite is item number 4. How incredibly tasteless is that? It's like a third rate American teen comedy. Sure the producers needed to raise some funds by selling the dvd or something but WOW! it's appalling.
3 minutes for a trailer seems a little much but other than the beginning I don't feel like it's gratuitous with it's use of time and it's one of those seemingly rare trailers that doesn't tell you every last detail of plot before it's done. Thumbs up trailer editor.
So still here after my opening and the trailer? How about some synopsisisation? Patrick Fugit kills himself after a bad breakup and wakes up in an afterlife reserved for suicides (purgatory basically?) Everyone has jobs and nobody can smile (sounds like the town I grew up in, well the smiling part anyway) he finds out that his ex girlfriend is also a suicide and a road trip ensues as he attempts to find her. Hijinks follow, including a stop at a travelers camp where miracles happen, meeting Shannyn Sossamon who is a wild thing hunting for a way out of purgatory and a black hole under the seat of a car. Oh yeah and Will Arnett.
So it's a rom-com with a difference, a road trip movie of sorts, a black comedy about purgatory, I've never seen anything like it before or since. The closest I can remember is Defending Your Life with Albert Brooks but that doesn't really compare either. This afterlife is an odd odd place, and the adventures of the three main characters are much more interesting for it.
The character played by Shea Whigham, Eugene, is so similar to Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello and Everything is Illuminated fame it's scary, I think I spent half of the movie wondering if it was actually him. I later found out that the part was written for Hutz which would account for the likeness. Patrick Fugit is pretty much stuck in the same way Michael Cera is stuck, playing that one character again and again to the point where you question whether he is just playing himself. As the main character, Zia, he is melancholy and has given up on (after)life in a way that almost makes you forget about William in Almost Famous. I personally love watching Shannyn Sossamon and find that she has been criminally underused in movies. Whether it's her band taking up all of her time or casting directors just don't like her I don't know but in this she is wonderful, the breath of fresh air that Patrick Fugit needs to pick himself up and the spark around which the whole movie evolves.
Beautifully shot from the moment we arrive in purgatory the film is filled with muted colours and a washed out look to the landscapes, a great choice from the director and is enhanced by all the characters looking slightly grey. The film is filled with magical moments but these are not just the miracles, finding beauty and magic in the more mundane aspects of their journey also. The tone is pretty much perfect, very funny yet not taking its humour from the dark subject matter, there are not really any suicide jokes like some less intelligent movies might use, whimsical yet melancholy with moments of great laughter mixed with truly affecting scenes and several wtf moments.
As a road trip movie it works, the characters grow with each other and because of each other, they experience wondrous and unexplainable events, there's a montage sequence which is obviously essential. As a black comedy, it's funny, so it works here also. As a rom-com, as discussed there is humour and there is different relationships between male and female characters which involves romance, this works also. Basic requirements for the genre aside this is a beautiful and funny film with interesting characters and pretty much faultless direction. If i gave scores it'd get 5/5 or 10/10 or 2 thumbs up. It's really quite a special piece of indie film making.
Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) DivX - icefilms.info