Wristcutters: A Love Story
Feels about right.
Small is good in this case. Wristcutters is an indie about as absurd as films will get this year. Its conceit, that there is a post-mortem place where suicides go, actually feels about right?a dark, dirty, desaturated, desert (Southern California?) with machines on the brink of normal death in a time just before cells and computers but modern enough for lost souls finding their way back to themselves even if they are dead.
Zia (Patrick Fugit, looking like a young Harvey Keitel) opens the film by cleaning his room and then offing himself in the titular way. A good start for a film and not a bad way for a hero to begin a bizarre journey. His new universe is shared then by other suicides, most notably Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), a winsome beauty who may or may not deserve to be there. While helping him find his lost love, Desiree (Leslie Bibb), Mikal also looks for the PIC (People in Charge) who could clear up the mistake of sending her to this limbo.
Let the love begin.
The figurative elements, such as PIC standing for authority and utopia owner Kneller (Tom Waits) the false promises of freedom, are clear enough; what doesn't work well enough is any real X-Files, Twilight Zone, or Lost impact, just a notion that miracles happen (and, I suppose happiness in real life) when you don't force them, when you don't care if they happen. Accepting the vagaries of life seems to work out there and down here as well.
After the insight, the film meanders through some little episodes that amuse with their oddity but don't add up to a hill of beans the way they might have in What Dreams May Come if it weren't such a sappy Robin Williams vehicle. I'm happy filmmaker Goran Ducik has taken me back to my favorite paranormal TV shows; I just wish he had nudged the concept a little further with more pronounced magical realism and less grungy road movie.