A love story like you’ve never seen

Also known around the world as Pizzeria Kamikaze, Wristcutters: A Love Story is a film about death and life – but mostly death. It is dingy, slightly sinister and potentially offensive on a few different levels.

That being said, it is imperative to approach it with an open mind because it may, in fact, challenge all your precious notions of a thoroughly lovely and peaceful afterlife. For these 91 minutes, it is anything but.

But don’t despair! Despite all of these heavy themes and my mild threats, Wristcutters is more uplifting than depressing, however unintuitive that might sound. It is a love story, too, after all. More than that, it could almost compete with your typical, tedious date movies and, for those who can appreciate it, there is much hilarity lurking around every corner. Perhaps the humor is to be expected, looking at the title again.

This film asks its viewers to hypothesize such a thing as life after death. It is quite a task, and whether you personally believe in such a thing, your version of the afterlife is not represented here. For starters, it is an afterlife reserved exclusively for those who commit suicide. The film, though, doesn’t really tackle the questions of those who die by other means. The best way to imagine it is if you took the most lifeless town, took away the Dairy Queen and replaced whatever color palette was in place with beige and sand.

In order to bring these ideas down to Earth – sort of – director Goran Dukic employs the characters Zia (Patrick Fugit), Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), Eugene (Shia Whigham) and Kneller (Tom Waits) and sends them on their own little quests. Zia is looking for his girlfriend from life who "offed" herself after he did, Mikal is looking for the elusive people in charge and Eugene is just going along for the ride because he has nothing better to do.

Kneller is a different story – Kneller’s Happy Campers by Etgar Keret, to be precise. His story is the one upon which the rest are built. He brings some real edge and is a thematic heavyweight of the film, but still, in all of Tom Waits’ glory, manages somehow to not steal the show. His character brings the whole idea of going against the grain to life, or death, I suppose.

Overall, Wristcutters dares to "go there" and challenges the suits in Hollywood to think outside the box of tired cliches, cookie-cutter plots and movie magic formulas. If more of them did that, we just might have more movies like Wristcutters on our hands.

After a lengthy and successful tour of the festival circuit, the highly anticipated Wristcutters: A Love Story has made its way to Houston. It began trickling into mainstream theaters in mid-October and finally opened Friday at the Edwards Greenway Palace Stadium 24, 3839 Weslayan St.

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