This quirky film has a new take on the afterlife. Anyone that commits suicide, like protagonist Zia (Patrick Fugit), finds themselves in a depressing, washed out version of life where everything is similar just worse. People are stuck here, waiting on one thing or another. One of the few people that seems genuinely happy is Zia’s friend Eugene (Shea Whigham), who has his whole family there. Eventually Zia learns the love of his life, Desiree (Leslie Bibb) is in this purgatory, having killed herself shortly after him. He goes in search of her with Eugene. As they set on their strange odyssey they meet several people along the way, and each one is usually accompanied with a quick scene of their suicide.
The movie seems dark and depressing, but its sense of humor helps to keep its lighter message afloat. Eventually a girl named Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who is new to this life, joins them claiming to be searching for the “people in charge” because a mistake was made. Mikal didn’t mean to kill herself, she overdosed on drugs. Eventually they come on a camp of people in the desert. Strange, small, inconsequential miracles seem to happen around here. Mikal made the headlights on the car work, a man levitated, and Eugene altered the color of the fish.
Zia is obsessed with these miracles, and increasingly obsessed with Mikal. His feelings for become evident, though he is conflicted because of Desiree. He receives friendly and vague advice from the leader of the camp, Kneller (Tom Waits). Through another strange chain of events in which Eugene falls for a mute girl and a dog is kidnapped, Zia, Mikal, and Kneller end up at the camp of an occult leader that Desiree “followed” into the afterlife. As Desiree explains what happens, and how the occultist plans to kill himself again, Zia realizes his true feelings are for Mikal. Before he can tell her, the People In Charge show up in white vans and take her away (there really was a mistake).
This is a strange film, but worth watching. It deals with serious subjects like death, suicide, and love in a humorous way. It doesn’t glorify suicide, in fact it is the opposite. If there was ever a reason not to kill yourself, it’s to avoid this place. And of course, for true love. Mikal and Zia (thanks to undercover angel-cop Kneller) both return to the land of living, waking up in hospital beds next to each other. It also doesn’t judge those who have committed suicide (except maybe the cult leader that led others to suicide). None of their reasons were considered dumb, or done for the wrong reason. They were people that wanted a way out of their situation, but it was a way that hurt. The film mentions several reasons why people don’t kill themselves again, even though the place they are in is still terrible. For one they might end up worse off, they also know that it is painful, and apparently futile. Wristcutters: A Love Story is dark, slightly twisted, and more than a little off. But it does attempt to broach a subject that many find uncomfortable or difficult to talk about, and set it against a nice romantic story. Zia and Mikal’s relationship help to make the discussion, if not the act, of suicide okay.