Wristcutters: A Love Story – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

After meticulously cleaning his messy apartment and right after the opening credits, Zia (Patrick Fugit) quietly enters his bathroom and falls to the floor. He has slit his wrists. Instead of going to either heaven or hell, he ends up in a Purgatory of sorts. A wasteland where the cars are rusty, the buildings are covered in graffiti, and everyone there has committed suicide, or is “offed”, as the movie prefers to call it.

He befriends a Russian rock singer named Eugene, whose entire family has joined him in this bizarre afterlife. Zia and Eugene emotionlessly muddle from bar to bar until Zia discovers that his girlfriend in his previous life, Desiree, has also committed suicide. Shy Zia and outspoken Eugene set off on a road trip to find Desiree. Along the way, they pick up a hitchhiker Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who is desperately trying to find the “people in charge” so she can get out of this place. She claims that she’s there by mistake and they should make an exception for her. Of course there are other quirky events that happen along the way, like the trio encountering a strange sideshow circus of a group led by a man named Kneller, played by Tom Waits. And they do finally find Desiree, but that’s not giving anything away.

Wristcutters: A Love Story could be categorized as a “quirky romantic comedy” in the style of Juno, Love Me If You Dare, or heck, even Shaun of the Dead. But there’s something about this movie. It has so much potential, so much wit and ingenuity, but it doesn’t make good on very many of its promises.

The biggest disappointment is the script. Some of the lines are really cheesy and seem very out of place. Also, there are several times where something is brought up by one of the characters and then it’s completely forgotten. For example, in one scene, Zia and Eugene are watching a taxi circle the parking lot of a vehicle repair shop. They make a few comments like they would be going somewhere with it, but then the taxi is never seen again. The pacing also suffers because of this. The characters seem to be waiting for something to happen, but more often than not, nothing does.

Perhaps this is just because of the environment they are in. What hope or joy could someone have if they were in this world? They can’t even smile. Everything, even the people, is monotone and lifeless. Director Goran Dukic did a phenomenal job of finding locations and using colors that perfectly suited this repulsive afterlife. There is enough atmosphere to fill a few films, let alone use all of it for one. He’s created a world that looks just enough like ours to create similarities, but just different enough to make it uncomfortable.

Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the film is just widescreen enough to be able to say it’s “widescreen”. Just a hair bigger and it would be fullscreen. Nothing seems to be lost in this ratio though. The colors that are actually used in the film, such as the bright red of Mikal’s jacket, are beautiful. The film is also in Dolby Digital Surround Sound, which is underused. The sound transfer isn’t all that great during the dialogue, but emphasizes the original score perfectly.

Making the Final Cut: the Wristcutters Journey – This behind the scenes featurette mostly features the director Goran Dukic talking about how he adapted the film from the short story, “Kneller’s Happy Campers” by Etgar Keret. He discusses a lot of the creative freedoms he took from the original text. Had I read the short story before seeing the film, I would probably be perturbed. He talks about how he completely changed the ending, but filmed both versions: the one in the movie, and the one from the book.

Deleted Scenes – So this is where I was expecting to see that alternate ending that Dukic was teasing in the Making the Final Cut featurette. Unfortunately, and with no explanation, it isn’t here. However we do get eleven deleted scenes that really should have been put in the film. Maybe if they were in the film, it wouldn’t have suffered from some of the poor pacing. Remember the taxi scene I told you about? It’s finished up in a deleted scene. We also get to see the reason why Mikal thinks that an exception should be made for her. Don’t these things need to be in the movie??

Director’s Storyboard Look-In – The climax scene is shown here with the original storyboard drawings shown over the actual film.

Patrick Fugit’s On Set Photos – Exactly what it says. This is a looooong slideshow of the pictures Patrick Fugit took while shooting the film. This feature is 5:28 long.

A full length commentary is also included with director Goran Dukic and Patrick Fugit.

TrailersThe Eye (2008), fearnet.com, The AfterDark Horrorfest 8 Films to Die For, and Fido

Wristcutters: A Love Story will probably need an additional viewing to fully enjoy. It is a very unique movie with personality to spare. One that fans of quirky indie cinema will love.

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Lions Gate presents Wristcutters: A Love Story. Directed by Goran Dukic. Starring Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Tom Waits. Written by Goran Dukic. Running time: 91 minutes. Rated R. Released on DVD: March 25, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.

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