Film: Wristcutters: A Love Story

There’s nothing earth-shattering about Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), but I liked it, a low-key, low-budget comedy about a young man named Zia (Patrick Fugit) who commits suicide in despair over a break-up with his girlfriend Desiree (Leslie Bibb). Turns out, though, that killing yourself only puts you into a purgatorial half-life where everything’s just like actual life, but worse. Nobody smiles, nobody laughs, and nothing happens. Nonetheless, Zia is stirred by the news that Desiree, too, has committed suicide, and with his Russian pal Eugene (Shea Whigham) at the wheel, he sets out to find her. On the way, an attractive female hitchhiker named Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon) — claiming her arrival in this particular afterlife was a mistake, as her death wasn’t a suicide but an accident — joins them on their road trip, with her own mission.

Wristcutters is quirky, laid back, dark indie fun, its premise perfect for its miniscule finances. The suicides’ afterlife is a grimy, run-down place full of dilapidated buildings, clunky cars, and litter-strewn desert, which probably made location-casting easier on such a shoestring budget. Despite the offbeat trappings, the plot is rather formulaic, what with the hero pursuing the wrong girl while the right one is right under his nose; but plot is less important than tone, which is extremely dry and just a little weird. Fugit makes for a likable slacker protagonist, and Sossamon an attractive love interest. And Tom Waits makes an appearance, which improves just about any movie. It’s not a great film by any means, but it’s an honest and enjoyable one.

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