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The International Writers Magazine:

Wristcutters: A Love Story
Director: Goran Dukic
Writer: Etgar Keret, Goran Dukic
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, Shannyn Sossamon

Calvin Hussey review

To judge a book, or DVD as it were, by its cover the title "Wristcutters" doesn’t exactly conjure up the most positive of images. In fact, when the films leading protagonist Zia (Patrick Fugit) puts on a Tom Waits record, cleans his apartment and, just as the opening titles display, proceeds to slash his wrists in the bathroom, you may be forgiven for thinking that "Wristcutters" is nothing more than a bleak tale of suicide and despair.

However, from the moment you witness Zia sprawled lifelessly amongst a puddle of his own blood, the film manifests itself as an unusually uplifting, offbeat, romantic comedy set in a purgatory tailor-made for those ill-fated souls who choose to end it all.

Unfortunately for Zia, this new existence turns out to be a lot like the life he renounced, but just "a little bit worse". It’s a dreary place strongly resembling the dusty shanty towns of the American west; a place where the dusty streets are lined with broken-down cars, the stars don’t shine, and a smile is a seemingly unattainable memory. Zia eventually befriends Eugene (Shea Whigham), an irritable, yet endearing, ex-rock star from Russia.

Together the two embark on a road trip to find Zia’s ex-girlfriend after discovering that she followed in his own self destructive footsteps. During their travels they meet up with eventual love interest Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), an attractive young girl in search of whoever is in charge to convince them that she was sent there by mistake.

Adapted from the 1998 novella "Kneller’s Happy Campers" by Etgar Keret, this intriguing and unmistakably eccentric tale proves to be a promising debut for director and screenwriter Goran Dukik. Dukik inspires fantastic performances from the whole cast and, combined with Vanja Cernjul's beautifully dreary cinematography, successfully brings the pages of Kerat’s original work to life. Beyond the fantastic direction, and performances from the films leads, other personal highpoints include; Tom Wait’s darkly comic supporting role as broken-down spiritual guru Kneller, and a selection of infectious tracks from Gogol Bordello that supply the sound of Eugene’s old band. For me, "Wristcutters: A Love Story" was a truly unforgettable and pleasurable experience. It is quite literally unlike any other film you will see and, due to this fact, is sure to emerge as a popular cult favourite for years to come.

©  Calvin Calvin May 2008

Calvin is a Creative Writing student at the University of Portsmouth

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