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Wristcutters: A Love Story | Review

Pale Riders: Cheating death in the after life has its share of highs and lows.

Best described as a road trip romance for the dearly departed, Wristcutters: A Love Story aims to tickle the funny bone by way of the topic of suicide. The unexpected is to be expected when a real-life character like Tom Waits becomes part of the fabric of such a project and while Goran Dukic’s directorial debut is branded with both a weirdness and a touch of Kustrica-esque personality that may offset the low-budget look of the film, it is the loss of momentum and perhaps the repetitiveness that sucks the ‘life’ out of the unique point of view that is offered on what happens when folks kick the bucket.

Inspired by the 98’ novel by Etgar Keret called Happy Campers, Dukic’s screenplay mashes a bank of folks in transit with a landscape of desert with junkyard waste. The narrative explores how each character bought their ticket to the afterlife – these flashback episodes summon the bigger laughs of the film specifically in the case of an unlucky Russian rockstar. What is unfortunate in this trip formula, is that the zany characters and stops along the way give witness to the accidental or successful deaths of characters but it never ponders asking the necessary – why suicide?

Leads Patrick Fugit and Shannyn Sossamon are great candidates to vehicle the incoherence of their dilemma and to demonstrate how youth and untimely death is a tragedy in itself, but one can’t help but feel that this is a comedy that funnels as many possible jokes one could think of in such a predicament. Dukic offers a screenplay that doesn’t take itself too seriously, but a little more investment in style (only shifts in color tones conclude that aesthetic choices were made) could have made a Wristcutters: A Love Story into a distributable Donnie Darko. The lack of meaning will make this Sundance entry a difficult sell.

January 24 – Sundance 2006.

Rating 2 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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