Review #7: Another Earth

Title: Another Earth
Year: 2011
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Director(s): Mike Cahill
Writer(s): Brit Marling, Mike Cahill
Cast: Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach

Summary: Rhoda (Marling) is a young woman on a fast-track to success after receiving her acceptance into MIT, where she hopes to study astrophysics, until the night she drunkenly causes a collision that kills a mother and child while putting the father in a coma. Two years later, a strange new planet identical to our own has entered into Earth’s orbit and, as Rhoda leaves prison on parole, she learns that the new planet’s inhabitants are equally identical: somewhere out there, there is another her. As she wonders whether or not the “other her” has the made the same mistakes she has, Rhoda also discovers that the husband of the family she killed, John (Mapother), has been awake from his coma for some time and is living nearby. Initially wishing to apologize, Rhoda seeks him out, only to lose her nerve and lie, pretending that she is a maid and convincing herself that she can indeed grant him a second chance at happiness.

Review: I have, on more than one occasion, wondered what it would be like to have a clone, how it would feel to know that I am not entirely individual even in the slightest of ways, and each time I have felt something close to fear. Humans naturally crave individuality, and the concept of knowing that there is “another you” is an incredibly daunting and bizarre one indeed, especially if you have led a life of mistakes or missed opportunities.

Another Earth takes this challenging concept and, with its beautiful story telling, compelling characters, and striking visuals, forces the audience to ask “what if?” While it may seem slow at first, the story builds at a very natural and convincing pace, allowing the audience to fully understand the grief and guilt that Rhoda must wrestle with every day, knowing that not only has she thrown away her future, but that she has caused such death and misery. This is only worsened by the relationship and love that develops between her and John as she tries to relieve him of his suffering while hiding the truth.

Brit Marling is fantastic in both her writing and debut performance as the conflicted Rhoda, capably expressing the isolation and misery with which her character must contend. Equally, William Mapother is wonderful as John, the successful composer turned mourning alcoholic, and I can truly say that I pray to see these two far more in the future.

From a technical standpoint, the visuals of the movie are stunning, with wonderful color tones, slow scenes, and shots of Earth 2. Equally, the editing is fluid and well executed, and the soundtrack, though often eerie, is quite fitting.

Overall, I found Another Earth to be a movie that is utterly beautiful in its melancholy, portraying a tale of loss and second-guessing in a way that, though depressive, is also inspiring and almost hopeful in its own delicate way.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #6: Melancholia

So, school has ended and, with free time and a need to distract myself, I thought I’d get back to reviewing because of the positive feedback I’ve gotten via Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail.

Title: Melancholia
Year: 2011
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Science Fiction
Director(s): Lars von Trier
Writer(s): Lars von Trier
Cast: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Stellan Skarsgård, Cameron Spurr, John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling

Justine’s fairytale is hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

Summary: Set presumably in modern day America, Melancholia is told in two parts. The first part, “Justine,” takes place during the wedding reception of Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and her new husband Michael (Alexander Skarsgård), who, at first, seem plagued only by limo troubles and tardiness. However, it quickly becomes quite clear that not all is well, with Justine’s bizarre, flirtatious father (John Hurt) beginning a toast that devolves into a public debate with his cruel ex-wife (Charlotte Rampling), who denounces marriage and labels Justine a fool. Further rebuffed by her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who is angry that Justine is depressed on her wedding day, as well as her brother-in-law, John (Kiefer Sutherland), who keeps reminding her that he is paying for the wedding and she best enjoy it, Justine grows increasingly distant throughout the night. Michael, bewildered by her change in mood, strives to cheer her up, an effort which proves fruitless as Justine takes a bath instead of remaining at the reception, drinks excessively, and becomes preoccupied with a strange, red star that John labels “Antares.” Caught up in indecision and sudden fear, Justine suddenly to draw the conclusion that life is meaningless.

The second part, “Claire,” takes place not long after the wedding, with Justine and Michael having predictably separated and Justine moving in with Claire, John, and their son Leo (Cameron Spurr). Justine is incredibly depressed, neglecting her own health and hygeine, and often speaks in cryptic phrases about death as Claire tries to care for her. John, an amateur astronomer, however, is more focused upon a giant, blue planet that has eclipsed Antares, called “Melancholia,” which is supposed to pass the Earth. Though Justine eventually gets past her frantic outbursts and begins to care for herself, she remains flat and depressive, telling her sister that life is meaningless and Earth, overcome with evil, is destined to be destroyed by Melancholia. Disturbed, Claire becomes increasingly obsessed with the potential of the world ending and slips into hysteria, struggling to care for her son and believe her husband’s insistence that the planets will never touch.

Young Leo bends wires to make a measuring device that can gauge Melancholia’s closeness to Earth.

Review: From the very beginning, Melancholia lives up to its title, as it is clearly an exploration of depression, suffering, and the value of life as perceived by two very troubled women. Against the backdrop of the looming planet Melancholia, a symbol, perhaps, for the imminence of death, the main characters struggle with familial dysfunction, clinical depression, and a sense of meaninglessness, all of which are portrayed so realistically that one cannot help but relate. Justine’s behavior is often frustrating and irrational for both her and those around her, a very accurate facet of clinical depression, of the often sourceless feeling that all is hopeless. With movies often equating “being sad” with clinical depression, I commend this film for its ability to grasp what clinical depression is and make the audience feel all of its frustration, anger, and confusion.

As far as the acting goes, I was thoroughly impressed by Dunst, who truly proves herself as a dramatic actress here and, in my opinion, deserved at least an Oscar nomination. She is often so convincing it’s genuinely unsettling, while giving off a mysterious vibe that often provokes viewers to question if Justine has psychic powers. Gainsbourg, who has impressed me with past roles, creates one of the most sympathetic and understandable characters in the film, despite her increasing hysteria and internal conflict. Likewise, Kiefer Sutherland’s performance here is my favorite of his, with his clear portrayal of John’s materialistic nature and tendency to only believe what he wants, even in the face of contrary evidence, making for a solid character. Even the supporting roles are fantastic, with John Hurt and Charlotte Rampling playing easily hateable parents, Stellan Skarsgård creating a truly despicable businessman, and Alexander Skarsgård and Cameron Spurr serving as two focal points for the audience’s sympathy.

Also, on a more technical note, the cinematography for the film is absolutely beautiful, particularly in the symbolic opening sequence, which predicts various characters’ fates. Equally, the soundtrack is very strong, with Richard Wagner’s song “Tristan und Isolde Prelude” fitting perfectly into the back- and foreground of events.

Overall, I found this film to be powerful in its realism, even as it relies heavily upon an element of science fiction. While Melancholia certainly does not have a host of loveable characters, its cast is definitely believable, when one realizes that, in life, there are more troubled and even plainly unpleasant people than there are commendable ones. Though certainly not a film one should choose for a light viewing, as it never relents for a light moment or humor, it is definitely one that will provoke viewers to question life as we know it.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #5: Twilight

Title: Twilight
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Romance, Drama
Director(s): Catherine Hardwicke
Writer(s): Melissa Rosenberg & Stephanie Meyer (novel)
Cast: Kristen Stewart (Panic Room, The Runaways), Robert Pattinson (Water for Elephants, Remember Me)

Bella and Edward appear to be posing for a GAP ad.

Summary: Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is a typical, teenage girl who moves to Forks, Washington to live with her dad after her mother gets remarried to a baseball player. Though quiet and flat, Bella enters her new high school and obtains several admirers and friends within a brief period of time. Then, one day, in the lunch room, Bella spots a group of oddly attractive teens, who turn out to be the Cullens, a family of adopted and mysterious teens. One family member in particular, Edward (Robert Pattinson), catches Bella’s attention and she becomes strangely infatuated with him, even though he is abrasive and rude to her. Over time, the two begin speaking and become friends and then, very quickly, enter into a relationship that’s far more dangerous than the average: Edward is a vampire and, though having sworn to only feed off of animals, is specifically attracted to the smell of Bella’s blood. Regardless, the pair sticks together and things appear to be going far smoother than expected, until far less friendly vampires enter the Cullens’ territory and threaten Bella’s life.

Playing into the teenage fantasy, they go to prom after a near-death experience just because.

Review: In contrast to my last post, here is Twilight, not just one of the worst vampire movies ever made, but one of the worst popular movies I have seen in a  very long time. Bella, for a reason that is never made clear, moves to Forks and absolutely hates it, not that you’d be able to tell if she didn’t say so: Kristen Stewart is such an atrocious actress in this that not a single genuine emotion flits across her face. Stranger still, even though her character is painfully two-dimensional and speaks in a mind-numbing monotone, the boys still flock to her — in reality, she is so boring that she would have gone entirely unnoticed in a high school, regardless of how small the town is. Then, for no reason, she decides to become enamored with a boy who won’t speak to her and looks at her funny; before long, they are completely, unbelievably in love, though they don’t seem to know a single thing about each other and only talk about being together forever and/or how dangerous he is. People insist his thirst of her blood makes it complicated, without even realizing that his panic following a heavy kiss is just a blatant message for abstinence and excuse for the character to brood.

Beyond the bad writing and awful plot — which only gets sillier when it is revealed that vampires like to play baseball, can live off of animal blood if they’re moral, and sparkle in the sunlight — the acting, as I previously stated, is lifeless. Stewart is the worst, but no one else steals the show, either — Pattinson delivers his lines in a way that suggests he can’t believe he’s signed on for this (in Water for Elephants he proves that he can do much better), Kendrick fades into the background despite being amazing in Up in the Air, and I barely even remember Lautner beyond being distraught over his dead-animal-like hairdo.

The film, even from a visual standpoint, fails to deliver. The special effects, as many have said before me, are laughable — during the sunlight scene, Pattinson looks like he  spilled glitter on himself during arts-and-crafts — but it’s the cinematography that drives me up the wall. Yes, there are some pretty sweeping shots of the forest, but, beyond that, all I can pay attention to is the fact that everything is greenish-blue-tinted. I kept forgetting that they weren’t underwater, before remembering that blue filters were probably added to bring in the dreariness that the actors could not.

Overall, the plot’s message is paper-thin and the entertainment value is limited to those who are simply enchanted with Pattinson. Equally, the acting is horrid and the visuals are uninspired. The whole series, honestly, offends me not just as a viewer, but as a female and I am in no way a die-hard feminist — it’s just, as someone who really hopes to one day be successful, it bothers me that Meyer is preaching to young girls that finding a man who will watch you sleep (wait, what?), getting married, and having a baby as young as possible is the only thing a girl is really meant to do. Bella goes through the motions without questioning anything or considering her own well-being, and never seems to have any aspirations beyond latching onto Edward forever and ever.

I leave you now with a list of everything that disqualifies the “vampires” this film as being, well… vampires. They:

  1. sparkle in the sunlight
  2. have no aversion to garlic, wolfsbane, or crosses
  3. can’t turn into bats, wolves, rats, and/or mist
  4. don’t sleep in coffins — in fact, don’t sleep at all
  5. don’t require human blood to survive
  6. can come into your home uninvited
  7. have reflections
  8. don’t require a stake to the heart and/or decapitation to be defeated

Really, the only thing these vampires have in common with those of yesteryear is they both suck, albeit in different ways.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #5: Let the Right One In

Title: Let the Right One In (originally Låt den rätte komma in)
Year: 2008
Rating: R
Language: Swedish
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Director(s): Tomas Alfredson
Writer(s): John Ajvide Lindqvist (screenplay & novel)
Cast: Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson, Per Ragnar (Storm), Peter Carlberg, Ika Nord

Oskar is a young boy pushed to his limits by bullying.

Summary: Set in Sweden during the 1980s, Let the Right One In tells the story of Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant), a shy and very bullied twelve-year-old boy from a broken home. When not being ignored by everyone around him, Oskar is frequently chased through the halls of his school by several boys, who then hold him down until he “squeals like a pig” to avoid a beating. Having grown increasingly disturbed by these attacks, Oskar spends evenings pretending to torture his antagonists, until a strange man (Per Ragnar) and girl (Lina Leandersson) move in next door and board their windows up with cardboard posters. Not long after her arrival, the girl, Eli, begins to visit Oskar on the playground at night, appearing very sickly but bright beyond her years, until the two develop an awkward friendship and childhood “romance.” Though thrilled with her companionship, Oskar begins to suspect that Eli is more than just an outcast due to her nocturnal visits and bizarre behavior, such as walking through the snow barefoot. Then, when murders begin to crop up around the city, each victim bearing a torn apart throat and broken neck, Oskar learns that, if he truly loves Eli, he must learn how to stand up for himself and play a part in a possibly violent future.

When forced to enter someone’s home without being invited, Eli experiences harrowing results.

Review: Before I say anything else, I will say that I hate Twilight and the modern vampire it’s created, and that, by no means, is this movie similar.

Let the Right One In is both a clever and touching coming-of-age story about broken children, as well as a gritty horror that reminds us of why vampires were once frightening. Its story flows well despite the fact that it heavily encompasses drama and horror, and I attribute this successful genre-blending to the phenomenal writing of John Ajvide Lindqvist and the acting of Lina Leandersson and Kåre Hedebrant, who really capture the identities of two children unfairly robbed of their innocence. The morals of violence and idea of loss of innocence are explored throughout, particularly through Eli, who is at times a loving friend and caretaker to Oskar, and, at other points, an inhuman creature surviving off of human blood and prone to using violence as a solution. Because of her two-sided nature — is she evil or just surviving? —  Oskar and Eli’s relationship, the focal point of the movie, is complicated, and, for American viewers, it is also questionable, as it steps into territory our films rarely touch: you will see a child commit extreme acts of violence and you will see two youths discovering their sexuality (though never actually engaging in it). The discomfort you feel at these points is important to drive the film’s message home: children are not supposed to experience the mature things that Eli and Oskar do, it’s simply not natural.

Overall, though its cinematography is beautiful and often bright, this film is never light-hearted (even its ending is only vaguely happy if you want it to be) but it carries a message that needs to be heard and, along the way, introduces deeply realistic characters you can’t help but to care for. Rather than becoming a supernatural thrill ride, Let the Right One In reminds its viewers that childhood is a fragile time of self discovery, and warns of the broken spirits that can come from a childhood cut short by violence and/or sexual abuse. In the end, we must come of age and discover ourselves at our own pace, because if we aren’t allowed to know ourselves, how will we know who the right one to let in is?

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #4: Never Let Me Go

Title: Never Let Me Go
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Genre: Romance, Drama, Science Fiction
Director(s): Mark Romanek
Writer(s): Alex Garland, Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
Cast: Carey Mulligan (Pride & Prejudice, An Education), Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean, Atonement), Izzy Meikle-Small, Charlie Rowe, Ella Purnell, Charlotte Rampling (The Verdict), Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky)

Carey Mulligan and Keira Knightley search for “Possibles” in this romance with a sci-fi twist.

Summary: Kathy H. (Carey Mulligan) is a young girl living in a seemingly perfect orphanage in an alternate version of England where medical breakthroughs have served to extend the average human life well past 100 years. Along with her best friend, Ruth (Keira Knightley), and crush, Toby (Andrew Garfield), she lives happily and dreams big, driven by her headmistress’s stress on the importance of art. However, her dreams are suddenly dashed when she learns a dark secret: no one in the orphanage is actually an orphan at all, but a clone created for only one purpose: organ harvesting. Upon reaching adulthood, she learns, each clone will be legally required to begin donating vital organs to “normal” people, until he or she “completes” i.e. dies and can give no more. Left blinded by the fact that she is merely a walking life support system, Kathy turns to Toby for comfort, only to find that he has fallen for Ruth and considers her merely a friend. As the trio grows up and leaves the orphanage for a small village for clones, they approach what they know will be the ends of their lives, and their relationships begins to strain. With purpose taken from her short life, Kathy yearns desperately for Toby, knowing that time for love is quickly running out.

In the world of Never Let Me Go, many share a single fate.

Review: Having enjoyed the book and being a fan of Mark Romanek’s work with One Hour Photo, I was incredibly excited for this film, but only just got my hands on it recently. Though it doesn’t necessarily live up to its source material (not many movies do), this film is entirely capable of standing on its own and delivering the same message with almost as much power. The science fiction aspect of the film, I found, is made quite realistic and serves as a dark backdrop for the three main characters as they (ironically) live with same kind of dread the people they’re curing would have had before the discovery of cloning. “If you ask people to return to darkness, the days of lung cancer, breast cancer, motor neuron disease, they’ll simply say no,” the headmistress tells them, delivering a very powerful point: if humans had a chance to live as long as possible, most wouldn’t care how this end is reached or who is hurt in the process. The fragility of human life and unfairness that can be inflicted upon us is made quite clear throughout the film and few questions are left unanswered, with the help of a simple soundtrack and gorgeous cinematography.

What truly carries the story, though, is not fancy camerawork or music, but the acting of Mulligan, Knightley, and Garfield. They aptly portray the many ways that people can respond to unfairness and the knowledge of imminent death, and create characters that are so three-dimensional you could practically reach out and touch them. Never does a line come off unbelievably, even when delivered by the younger actors in the film (who are really quite good), and all anyone watching can help to do is ask “what would I do if that was me?”

Overall, this film that definitely achieves its goal at raising “what ifs” and forcing its viewers to realize how, in the end, no one ever feels like they’ve been given enough time, leading them to grab selfishly for more. How much life do we deserve, truly, if we’re willing to take another’s? My single complaint about this film is that, in the end, it is nothing but severely depressing.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #3: Road to Perdition

Title: Road to Perdition
Year: 2002
Rating: R
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Director(s): Sam Mendes
Writer(s): David Self (screenplay); Max Allan Collins & Richard Piers Rayner (graphic novel)
Cast: Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin, Paul Newman, Daniel Craig, Stanley Tucci, Jude Law

John Rooney seems to be the grandpa everyone should want.

Summary: Orphaned as a child in the early 1900s, Michael Sullivan (Tom Hanks) was raised by prominent Irish-American mob boss John Rooney (Paul Newman), and eventually grew up to be one of his most reliable hitmen. As the Depression sets in, Michael isn’t very bothered by his profession, as he receives a steady income to support his family and finds a father-figure in Rooney, who prefers love Michael over his actual son, Connor (Daniel Craig). However, his world is turned upside down when his son, Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), hides in the back of his car one night and witnesses his father and Connor gun down several men at a warehouse. Realizing what his father is a contract killer, Michael Jr. is horrified, but promises to remain silent at his father’s request. His promise, however, does little to satisfy the paranoid and short-tempered Connor, who decides to take the matter into his own hands and chase the father and son through the Capone-run city of Chicago.

Law plays a sociopath, assassin, and force to be reckoned with.

Review: Originally, I had little interest in watching Road to Perdition because I’m not a big fan of gangster movies, but a friend of mine convinced me to see it a few years back and I was surprised to find that it’s much more than your typical, run-of-the-mill mob film. Road to Perdition is one of those films that both reaches outside of its genre and keeps both feet still firmly rooted within it. It features the necessary components of a gangster movie — intimidating mob bosses, bank heists, and shoot outs in the middle of the street — but never glamorizes the violence of the 1920s and focuses instead on how even big-time criminals can have humanity, mainly by showing Sullivan’s obsession with protecting his son’s innocence. Gangsters, the film reminds, were bad people, they were still just that: people.

Tom Hanks proves again his ability to handle diverse and unarguably challenging roles with this performance. He balances the character’s roles as both a desperate father and hit man realistically, while showing how internally conflicted he is in this morally bankrupt world of gray-areas and corruption. Tyler Hoechlin’s performance as a frightened child forced to grow up suddenly is quite good, and it’s a bit of a shame that he hasn’t really done much else. Paul Newman, one of my all time favorite actors, is incredibly captivating and plays the smooth-talking, in-control villain in an exceedingly convincing way. Likewise, Daniel Craig compliments Newman’s composure with his wonderfully erratic and hateful performance. In the end, though, my favorite performance has to be that of Jude Law, who plays a heartless sociopath phenomenally — like a shark that’s smelled blood, Law’s character is one from which no one can hide or receive the slightest of mercy.

The cinematography, particularly in the rain scenes, is dark and beautiful, and the soundtrack, scored by Thomas Newman, also known for his wonderful compositions for Little Children, Revolutionary Road, and Cinderella Man, is incredible.

Overall, this film provides far more than speakeasy thrills and Marlon Brandon impressions. Dramatic and emotionally effective with a powerful twist at the end, this is a film that does well to remind us that even seemingly wicked men deserve a shot at redemption, if not for themselves, then for the innocent whom they guide.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review #2: Wristcutters: A Love Story

Title: Wristcutters: A Love Story
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Genre: Romance, Drama, Fantasy, Dark Comedy
Director(s): Goran Dukic
Writer(s): Etgar Keret & Goran Dukic
Cast: Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous), Shea Whigham (Splinter, Fast & Furious, Machete), Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight’s Tale), Tom Waits (Dracula [’92], The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus), Leslie Bibb (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)

Mikal and Eugene try to remember what they looked like when smiling.

Zia (Patrick Fugit) is a love-struck young man who feels as though life simply isn’t worth living after his long time girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb) leaves him. Devastated by this loss, Zia slits his wrists and bleeds out on the bathroom floor. Unfortunately, the relief that Zia seeks is non-existent, as it is revealed that people who take their own lives are sent to another world almost identical to the previous, save for the fact that it’s a little bit worse. Colors are muted, flowers and stars don’t exist, family and friends are absent, and smiling is literally a physical impossibility; all Zia can do is rent a crummy apartment with an annoying roommate and snag a job working at a pizza shop. In this limbo between life and death, Zia spends all of his time painfully missing his ex-girlfriend, until he meets a young Russian man named Eugene (Shea Whigham). The two develop a sort of friendship and, when Zia discovers that Desiree has also killed herself, set off on a journey in Eugene’s car to look for her. Once on the road, they pick up a hitchhiker by the name of Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who claims that she doesn’t belong there and is seeking the “People In Charge” so she can return to Life. They discover a small camp set up in the middle of the desert headed by a strange man named Kneller (Tom Waits), where insignificant miracles, such as cigarettes floating away, constantly take place. The trio at first find comfort in this strange camp, until a closeness begins to grow between Zia and Mikal and they’re both reminded that new love is not what they’re seeking, and they must leave the camp to seek what they cannot let go.

A character flashes back to her suicide using a gas oven.

Review: Wristcutters: A Love Story is, above all else, a unique film that tackles the controversial issue of suicide without becoming too preachy or heavy handed. Appropriately ambiguous — you never know if the post-suicide world is Limbo or a direct level of Hell — yet straightforward, Wristcutters is full of diverse and quirky characters, from Zia, the depressive lead, to Nanuk, the mute Inuit who throat-sings. Some of my favorite scenes in the film showed the characters’ bodies after their suicides, which was often quite haunting and artistically shot. I found that each post-suicide shot revealed major flaws within the characters: one girl (see above) leaves a bitter note and kills herself in the middle of her house, showing that she’s spiteful and self-pitying, while Nanuk is seen surrounded by beers bottles after having purposefully frozen to death, a reflection of her desperate nature. In respect to the soundtrack: it’s strange and somewhat average save for a few songs, but helps to set the mood of each scene. Also, the cinematography is often quite beautiful and memorable.

Performance-wise, Patrick Fugit played the part of Zia appropriately, though I didn’t find his character to be the most interesting or challenging, while Shannyn Sossoman portrayed the spunky and stubborn Mikal quite well, and Tom Waits created a loveable and fatherly character. However, the performance that I really loved was that of Shea Whigham — the character that he created is, in my opinion, the only aspect of the film that was really funny despite its promise to be a “dark comedy,” for Eugene is so overtly self-absorbed, eccentric, and just plain fun to watch that I found myself turning to him for comic relief. I also liked Will Arnett of Arrested Development fame’s cameo as a crazed religious leader.

Though I personally found this film to be unique, it is in no way for everyone. Yes, its characters are engaging, its plot interesting, and its technical aspects fulfilling, but it is not as funny as advertised. For one thing, many of the post-suicide scenes are quitedepressing, though gore is used sparingly. Also, the world is, as I’ve let on, a complete downer: the idea of existing, looking as you did after your death (with slit wrists, a sickly complexion, etc.), without a purpose or the ability to laugh, is in no way lighthearted, and the characters never quite accept their fate. For those who enjoy indie films that are in the left field, I do recommend this for its well-written story and characters, but, for those who simply cannot see past the suicidal aspect, this is probably not the film for you. Thought-provoking, Wristcutters: A Love Story is, overall, a well done story that follows troubled people as they learn one of life’s most difficult lessons: when we should hold on and when we need to let go.

Posted in Movie Reviews | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment