Wednesday, November 14, 2007

tom waits for no man

Every once in awhile, my life is as poetic and mimetic of art as I'd always like for it to be. How appropriate, then, that my quest to see Wristcutters: A Love Story, was just that - a quest! I wanted to see a movie about people on a mission so badly that of course a few obstacles had to get in my way. But, last Wednesday, I finally got a chance to see it!

Unfortunately, I missed the first couple of minutes (parking in Los Feliz was, as ever, a hassle). It's a good thing that I only missed a few, because the whole picture is only 88 minutes long! I wasn't just surprised at the end that it was over, either - there were times during the film when I found myself thinking, "an act break already?" Despite the rushed pace of the movie, I enjoyed myself about as much as I think the filmmakers expected me to. There were a few laughter-inducing scenes, but for the most part I sat absorbing the characters without really cracking a smile. The fact is, the characters aren't the most sympathetic, because they all killed themselves. It's not like I wanted to judge them or anything, but their post-death personalities weren't super approachable, either.

Though the film had a lot of moments that made fun of itself, which I appreciated, and I thought the premise was smart and funny, it still felt unfinished. I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more (and as much as the trailer led me to believe I would) if the filmmakers had had the budget or whatever it was that prevented them from fleshing out the second half of the movie. It's not necessarily that I wanted to know everything about Tom Waits' character and the People in Charge - after all, Defending Your Life withholds information about the diegesis without being unsatisfying. But the conflation of all the plotlines at the climax was just so rushed, and I felt like a lot of entertaining material might be sitting on the cutting room floor (or in the writer's head).

I like seeing Patrick Fugit coming into more adult roles, and this had just enough adolescence in it to be age-appropriate. Leslie Bibb, Will Arnett, Tom Waits, and Shea Whigham were all very entertaining, and Shannyn Sossamon wasn't as annoying as she...could have been, in this role. So, I can recommend this film, but I really wish that the filmmakers had sat on it long enough to complete it. And if anyone's looking to enjoy Tom Waits acting in another film, I highly recommend Short Cuts, Robert Altman's 1993 adaptation of some of Raymond Carver's short stories. It's got a great ensemble cast - why wouldn't it, it's Altman!

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