May 30, 2011
Writer: Goran Dukic
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Shea Whigham, Shannyn Sossamon, Tom Waits, John Hawkes, Will Arnett
A warning before I continue: this movie is about exactly what the title says, and while there's only one semi-graphic scene in the film (most are implied or suggested), it talks heavily about the idea of suicide, and I feel as though it could not properly be reviewed without further discussion of the same.
"Are you joking? Do you guys like it here? Who the hell likes being stuck in a place where you can't even smile? It's hot as balls, everybody's an asshole. I just wanna go home." After committing suicide, Zia (Fugit) and his new friend Eugene (Whigham) set out on a voyage through the afterlife to find Zia's ex-girlfriend Desiree, who has also recently killed herself. Along the way, they run into Mikal (Sossamon), a girl on a quest of her own--one to find the people in charge, so she can be sent back to life, as she was sent wherever it is they are by mistake.
This has been an unbelievable week for me, filmwise; I saw a drama about a man communicating through a beaver puppet, and then this charming film about suicide, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was Dukic's feature debut at both writing and directing. Shot for a mere $1,000,000, the film is simultaneously wholly and not at all impressive. The desaturation of the world is exactly what you'd expect in the purgatory-esque existence suggested by a world where, while there's not constant torture, no one smiles and the weather's uncomfortably hot. The soundtrack fits the tone well also, filled with either artists who committed suicide themselves or the work of Gogol Bordello, whose frontman was the inspiration for the character of Eugene. Fugit, who many would remember as the lead from Almost Famous, has matured emotionally as much as he has physically between the two films, and is a great fit for the lead. Whigham and Sossamon do a great job cutting their teeth on this film, and have a very believable love-hate dynamic. Hawkes and Waites also come through well, in parts that could be hammy in the hands of others; the two are wonderfully understated, fortunately. As much as I hate to say it...my one problem was Will Arnett, or rather, his casting. His character (named Messiah King because of his leadership of a cult) is very much Gob from Arrested Development, which I might not have noticed if he didn't have Gob's face. Not that I'm not a fan of Gob, but he just doesn't belong in the movie. While it might contain themes or images that some are unable to handle, I highly recommend this to anyone with a remote desire to see it, in the hopes it'll impress you as much as it did me. A