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Wristcutters: A Love Story

DVD Three Stars
Wristcutters: A Love Story drew my attention back at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this year, but once again I failed to see it due to a very busy schedule. The idea of people who have committed suicide going to another world which is even bleaker than this one as way of some form of punishment is rather an interesting one, and it's well explored in the film from the angle of a few individuals.

The refreshing and interesting film is brought to DVD with some additional extras, and the review of both film and DVD follow here on Filmstalker.

Plot.pngWristcutters.jpgHere's the rough outline of the setting of the film, when someone commits suicide they don't cease to be, they don't head to heaven and they don't head to hell...well in a way they get closer to the latter. Where they do go is some form of limbo world where everything is a little more bleaker and depressing.

The story follows one man, Zia played by Patrick Fugit, who commits suicide and arrives in this new world. He starts to make a life there and settles with what he has, scared that if he commits suicide again he'll go somewhere even worse.

During his mundane life he befriends Eugene, played by Shea Whigham, and he accidentally finds out that his ex-girlfriend, who he killed himself over, also committed suicide and is in this world. Together they head on a journey to track her down and on the way meet Mikal, played by Shannyn Sossamon, a woman who claims she doesn't belong in this world and seeks someone in charge to send her back.

While on the journey Mikal and Zia realise that they are growing fonder of each other, and yet he still continues his search and they come across a strange character called Kneller, played by Tom Waits, in a place where miracles happen as a matter of course.

TheFilm.pngThe thing that hits you about Wristcutters: A Love Story straight away is the matter of fact approach to the story, that helps to make it more believable as there's no desire to explain things, why would there be? They just happen that way. I really do like that aspect of the script.

It's such a fantastic idea too, and rather than get bogged down with itself by examining what's happening in this strange world and why things are the way they are, the film concentrates on the main characters and their story, and through their interactions with each other and their journeys, we discover the nuances of this fantastical world.

That said, there is a point where the film does lose grip of that simplistic idea and it starts to push the boundaries a little too much, and that's when I started to find myself questioning and trying to reason with the ideas being presented. It's at the point where we meet the self proclaimed King that I started to find the story losing me and it's grip on my imagination just a little, and it started pushing me away.

It does come back to the more simplistic idea soon after, but then it presents itself with other problems.

At this point the story become a little frustrating with moments such as the main character wandering around aimlessly with an aghast, blank look on his face doing nothing. However this too doesn't last too long and the story being to pick back up by just dropping some story lines and moving on with others. It seems a little odd, but just dropping them seems to work for the film, even if I was left wondering what had happened and what was going to happen. This was a little frustrating as there is one major plot thread that just seemed to be dropped and walked away from.

It does come to a satisfying conclusion though, and overall you have a strong liking for the film and its rather quirky ideas.

Performance wise it's all down to Shea Whigham and Shannyn Sossamon. Whigham is fantastic as the Russian ex-rock singer who electrocuted himself during a show to prove a point to the unappreciative audience. His character is very engaging and I wanted to see more of the characters interacting with him and hear more of his pearls of wisdom.

Sossamon has a wonderful quality that dates back to the black and white Hollywood stars that command your attention on screen. She's beautiful, but it's not that quality that stands out here. She gives a natural performance that begins as very closed and standoffish and slowly opens up and warms to Zia and the viewer.

Audio.pngDolby Digital 5.1
What a disappointing audio track on the film, and I should point out here that the screener I had may well have been suffering from a poor transfer or something, but the left and right channels of audio were reversed. This wouldn't have really mattered if the audio track hadn't started making use of left and right channels a little, when it did it always seemed to be the opposite way around from the location of the sound on screen. Weird.

Apart from that there was no real need for the 5.1 and it could well have been happy with a DD2.0 track, again though this was probably down to a poor copy I was given to review.

The film pretty much concentrates on the storytelling and so the camera does try and stay out of the storytelling for the most part. The colours are faded and a little washed out through the majority of the film during the time that we spend in the other world, however it does look good through this effect, and it provides a subtle but effective change for the moments we see in the real world.

Extras.pngAudio Commentary with director Goran Dukic, star Patrick Fugit, and producers Mikal Portnoi Lazarev and Tatiana Kelly, Deleted Scenes, Making of Featurette, Storyboard Comparisons
Audio Commentary
The commentary was good and covered a lot of behind the scenes and aspects about the film making and a few amusing anecdotes about the time on set. It's amusing and interesting, but there is a feeling that you're eavesdropping on a discussion sometimes, a discussion with in-jokes that you're not quite a party to.

Deleted Scenes
I loved the way that the deleted scenes were presented. They were cut in with scenes from the film so you could recognise where they belonged, except the film footage was shown in black and white and when it changed to the deleted footage it was in colour. That was a great way of seeing how the scene played with the film and also ensuring you kept track of the deleted section.

There were some interesting moments in the deleted scenes, but there's nothing that radically changes the plot or the characters. Perhaps the only interesting scene that was deleted was Hassan the taxi driver, a scene that I felt would have been really interesting if it had been left in.

Making of Featurette
This featurette carries plenty of behind the scenes with plenty from the writer/director, and a little more from the producers with a few words from Fugit. It goes into some pretty interesting details of the production, but there just wasn't enough of it for me and I'd have liked to have seen some more from during the production rather than a retrospective look back.

Storyboard Comparisons
The King sequence is shown in the background with an opaque storyboard over the top. The panels move left to right as the scene on the film changes, and the notes underneath the panels are clearly readable. This provides for a very interesting way of comparing the storyboards, in a way I haven't seen before and it's hugely effective

Overall.pngThe film had a really interesting idea and does present itself well. Instead of over complicating things and analysing every detail of this new world, it's all just taken for granted, and through our journey we discover how things really are.

However the film does find there's a need later on to look closer at some of the inner workings of the world and this is where I think it starts to lose focus, all round about the King scenes. It does manage to pick thing back up though, but not before it turned me away from the lead character and it had some work to do to bring me back to the story.

The film is helped a lot by the performances of Whigham and Sossamon who are very engaging on screen and do take you into their characters. The main character was thoroughly uninteresting though and I struggled to keep interest in him, in fact he often makes you feel like the story is plodding along and that it's a bit of a chore to be here with him.

The film took a harsh beating because of the audio track, however I'm more than willing to chalk that up to a bad screener copy and move on. Apart from that the DVD offering is strong, and has a good number of extras, some of which are interesting to watch.

It's a good film on a decent DVD, and is something away from the norm that is worth watching.

Buy or rent from LOVEFiLM
Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com
UK IMDB Film Details



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