The Netflix Diaries: Wristcutters: A Love Story

The Netflix Summary: Trapped in an alternate world populated by suicide victims, a band of souls tries to find an escape route in Goran Dukic's quirky fantasy. Although he took his own life, Zia (Patrick Fugit) isn't ready for such a grim hereafter, particularly when he learns that his ex-girlfriend also killed herself. On a quest to find her, he befriends a jaded hitchhiker and a Russian rocker, and together, they set out in search of a more appealing afterlife.

Major Players: Patrick Fugit (the nice dude from Saved!), Goran Dukic (director of foreign things), Leslie Bibb (Will Ferrell's wife in Talledega Nights), Shea Wigham (an up and coming 'Hey It's That Guy' with 29 credits to his name), and Shannyn Sossamon (the love interest in 40 Days and 40 Nights... also she was in that Moonlight series that just got axed).

So, imagine you're an executive from Lion's Gate Films, the eventual distributor of this oddball little road movie, set in a grimy suicide land. It's based on a short story by Etgar Keret, the script is actually pretty good.. you think this might work, in a limited-run, DVD recoup sort of model.

Wouldn't you, for just one second, think- "Why that title?" "Wristcutters"? Really? First of all, Patrick Fugit's Zia is the only character that acutally commits suicide by wrist-cutting, so that's a misnomer to begin with. Secondly, it's horribly more off-putting and dark than the tone of the film itself, which actually turns out to be affably whimsical. How about something corny and goofy like "Offed," maybe?

Anyway, that's my only major complaint- a completely bizarre premise turns out into a pretty traditional road movie in structure- Fugit kills himself, wakes up in a world that's just a grimier, crappier version of the real world. He sets out to find the girl he killed himself over (Bibb), meets a spunky hitchiker along the way (Sossamon)-who may turn out to be more interesting after all (which is only a spoiler alert if you've never seen a movie before, ever).

It's the little touches to the netherworld that make the film great- people are physically incapable of smiling, colors are muted, and objects dropped under your car seat disappear forever. It even has subtle touches in the soundtrack (featuring Joy Division and Del Shannon, two suicides- okay maybe that's not terribly 'subtle').

Plus, the film's second half features fun bit parts by Tom Waits as guru with an eclectic campground of small miracles, and Will Arnett as the leader of a suicide cult who don't exactly end up where they expected.

The biggest comparison that I thought of while watching it was Donnie Darko, but perhaps without as much intentional obscurity (which is sort of good, and sort of not as good). They both have a very specific metaphysics to them, but take their sweet time unraveling the particulars instead of hitting you in the face with them. And both films are unquestionably dark, but keep the balance of tension and humor at just the right point.

Wristcutters doesn't ask important questions about life and the afterlife so much as bump into them along the way, which is all right by me. It imagines the calm, placid freedom that must come with reaching that level of misery.

(note: I know this feature seems like an ad for Netflix, with me including the summary and all, but it saves me time and Netlfix is awesome anyway. Seriously, why don't you have Netlifx? Are you a hobo?)

1 Response to "The Netflix Diaries: Wristcutters: A Love Story"

  1. notemily says:

    I'm not a hobo, I just go to the library and get movies for free.

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