Yesterday was Friday the 13th. Today is Valentine’s Day. Tom Waits is awesome.

For these reasons, I present you with a review of Wristcutters: A Love Story.

In 2006, Wristcutters: A Love Story premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. A year later, it gained widespread distribution. At this point, I’ve probably watched this movie 4 or 5 times.

Wristcutters: A Love Story is indeed a love story (albeit a delightfully odd one) starring Patrick Fugit—from Almost Famous fame. Patrick Fugit does Patrick Fugit things. Playing the character Zia, the movie opens with Fugit meticulously cleaning his home. Not only is he cleaning his home, Zia is also cleaning up his life. A fresh new start is on the horizon. And then you see a pool of blood in the sink after Zia cut his wrists.

It’s an aptly named movie.

From the opening scene, Wristcutters is fucking fantastic. Instead of moving on to your typical afterlife, committing suicide sends you into limbo where you continue to live your shitty life for no reason. You have no joy. Literally, you can’t smile. Everything looks bleak and dreary. There are no stars in the night sky.

Patrick Fugit

Limbo sounds like a punishment worse than hell. This would be my own personal version of hell.

Oh, and anything that falls under the passenger seat of Zia’s best friend’s car is lost forever because it is a black hole. If this doesn’t sound like a movie you want to watch, then go away. Get off my lawn.

Although I’ve never met anyone else who has even heard about this movie, there seems to be a mild cult following building up slowly over time like a silt deposit. A big part of the appeal appears to be Tom Waits. I love Tom Waits. If you have a brain in your head, you should too—the man is an incredible artist.

Tom Waits does not disappoint in Wristcutters. As always, Waits brings the beautifully weird.

Tom Waits

With the Tom Waits song in that superb opening scene, the tone of Wristcutters remains constant throughout the scant 88 minutes. However, the same cannot be said for the pacing. While the first 45 minutes of the movie breeze by with several laughs and such an intriguing portrait of an afterlife, the second half of Wristcutters drags in certain places—leaning too heavily on the drama.

If the comedy didn’t die in the third act, Wristcutters: A Love Story would be a perfect movie.

Despite its flaws, I love this movie and acknowledge that others may not share my viewpoint. There are so many aspects to love about this movie. As mentioned earlier, this version of an afterlife is beautiful and dark at the same time. From my perspective, this world itself is worth the price of admission.

Patrick Fugit puts forth his typical performance, which is above average. The casting process must work because he’s perfect for his roles in movies. Surprisingly, the star for the first half of this movie is the character Eugene—a crazy Russian musician who killed himself on stage by pouring a beer on his electric guitar. Shea Whigham outshines Patrick Fugit in this supporting role as Zia’s best friend.

Shea Whigham

In the second half, it is the Tom Waits show as he plays a character named Kneller. His introduction is outstanding and I wouldn’t want to spoil it for anyone interested in watching this movie. As a mysterious stranger who is anti-authority (because he’s Tom Waits), Kneller is the driving force of the story.

I won’t say anything else about the story because you need to discover this movie for yourself. With a unique story and quality supporting characters, Wristcutters: A Love Story is not your typical cookie-cutter love story. This movie is thoughtful and creative, which is increasingly rare for most movies—and damn near extinct for comedies. Treasure the off the beaten path miracle that is this movie.

In a forest of straight trees, Wristcutters is the crooked tree that’s still growing strong and strange.


4.5 out of 5 stars


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