In my twenties, back in Budapest, there was one movie theater that movie goers who were interested in non-mainstream movies went: Muvesz (aka “Artist”). Sure, there were other places where interesting movies were played, but this one, in the middle of downtown had an ambiance, with its well-crafted and ever-changing decor, indoor jewelry, book and dvd shop, and couches that could eat up anybody was the place to be and to be seen at too. The place, at least in my mind, also got associated with sad, depressing yet provocative movies. It had its own special atmosphere that I am struggling to describe.
What does this have to do with the Wristcutters movie? The only thing I knew about the movie that it played at the Muvesz and was very popular there. Based on this information and the title I thought it would be about teenage suicide, a topic also popular amongst Budapest’s alternative youth. As I am less interested in that topic nowadays I didn’t watch the movie when it came out. But recently I read the short description at IMDB, and realized that it is much more, it might be even considered a post-apocalyptic flick – one of my favorite genre– so I finally viewed the movie, 6 years after its debut.
The short version: It was to my liking. The longer version is that I would like any movie that
- has Tom Waits playing a hidden Messiah
- has a character named Eugene, who is sounds and looks like Eugene Hütz (of Gogol Bordello and Everything is Illuminated), but played by an actor
- has a strikingly mixed actress of French, Hawaiian, Dutch, Irish, Filipino and German descent (Shannyn Sossamon)
- is based on a short story by Etgar Keret an Israeli writer I knew of
- is mostly set in a desolate wasteland
- shows the power and changing nature of love
- has a twisted happy ending
Granted, not too many movies would fit all of these criteria but this one did. Plus it satisfied my interest in films with religious themes as it had numerous of those. Some of its suggestions are:
- The afterlife is real and segregated based no type of death.
- The difference between this life and the hereafter is not the capacity for (or lack of) love, but smile. As in: happiness belongs only to this realm.
- The Messiah is just one of us, with better sense of the big picture.
- False prophets are powerful, but don’t last long.
Finally here is another reason why it might have been popular in Budapest. Value is placed upon being “different” and imperfect as this extended quote shows:
Once upon a time there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. And they grew next to each other. And every day the straight tree would look at the crooked tree and he would say, “You’re crooked. You’ve always been crooked and you’ll continue to be crooked. But look at me! Look at me!” said the straight tree. He said, “I’m tall and I’m straight.” And then one day the lumberjacks came into the forest and looked around, and the manager in charge said, “Cut all the straight trees.” And that crooked tree is still there to this day, growing strong and growing strange.
IMDB’s summary: A film set in a strange afterlife way station that has been reserved for people who have committed suicide.