9 August 2006 | Chris_Docker
A wild, wacky, enjoyable ride - you won't slit your throat in the middle of it
Sometimes we find beauty in the strangest places; and, remarkably for such a gruesome title, Wristcutters could probably be said to be a rather uplifting affirmation of life, hidden within a seriously quirky black comedy. Set in an afterlife reserved for people who commit suicide, it seems to contain wacky nuggets of truth from oddball characters including Zia, searching for the love of his life, Mikal, an accidental visitor, Eugene, a Russian musician that electrocuted himself on stage from being badly heckled, and the weird and wonderful Kneller, played by the ever-mysterious Tom Waits.
Zia slits his wrists and promptly wakes up in a world resembling this one, except that the colours are rather washed out and nobody smiles. He abandons his job at Kamikaze Pizza to search for his former love Desirée, and soon makes close friends with Mikal and Eugene, who accompany him on one of the strangest road trips since Dorothy lost her innocence in the Wizard of Oz.
What gives Wristcutters its edge, are the frequent, addictively interesting, and not immediately fathomable symbols that keep cropping up and nagging away like in any good movie that yearns for cult status: such as the black hole under the passenger seat where things just disappear. We just know that place - how many things have you lost there? Then there are people who are just far too weird to have been dreamt up on the back of a Hollywood paycheck: like the throat-singing mute, the dead-again messiah, or the policeman who still has a hole in his head.
There is a temptingly meaningful logic at work that will leave you fitting the pieces together long after the film has finished. Explaining how to perform minor miracles to the lovelorn Zia, Kneller tells him: "As long as you want it so bad, it's not going to happen - the only way it's gonna work is if it doesn't matter . . . " We soon start looking for clues to this rather crazy world and here Mikal (played by the much under-rated Shannyn Sossamon) looks like a good bet - but then so does anyone if you let your imagination run wild enough.
The religious orthodoxy behind the ultimate ideas of Wristcutters is a weakness, but it is put subtly and light-heartedly so will be inoffensive to most viewers.
If the stars in your sky have gone out for a while, maybe treat yourself to this zany and very well-produced story to set them on fire again. Wristcutters - a Love Story is at once touching, hilarious, thought-provoking and a hugely enjoyable ride.