Wristcutters: A Love Story This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 1, 2009
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their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers.”



So says Bill Maher, writer, talk-show host, and political commentator, in the final speech of his documentary “Religulous.” The movie ­consists of interviews with an array of particularly peculiar religious adherents, and musings from Maher on the road.

Maher goes from the Midwest to the Middle East, highlighting with cringe-worthy precision the glaring inconsistencies in religion and the ­bigotry and violence caused by unquestioned faith. Maher, true to form, displays biting wit and scathingly well-articulated points, but under the direction of Larry Charles (who directed the raunchy, irreverent mockumentary “Borat”), some of the interviews seem less like food for thought than pandering to disenfranchised skeptics who want to see a conservative get trounced.

Despite some of these interviews (in which Maher is intellectual light-years ahead of his interviewees), Maher justifies his anger well. For its intended audience, “Religulous” is greatly satisfying, but with a little tact and a more rounded take on its subject matter, it could have changed hearts. As it stands, Maher's documentary is woundingly funny but may not interest those who wanted more than just entertainment.

While “Religulous” is too heavy-handed to be considered poignant, it is a well-made comedic documentary perfect for Maher fans. For viewers like me, however, who wanted Maher to change minds rather than “rally the base,” “Religulous” leaves something to be desired. F

by Alexandra Huff, ­Brentwood, TN

This movie is rated R.

sci-fi

Wristcutters: A Love Story

Don't be misled by the title; despite its cast of suicides and setting in purgatory, “Wristcutters: A Love Story” never forays into the realm of angst or pretension. (The R ­rating, it seems, stems mostly from the characters' frequent use of profanity.) Just as the subtitle promises, this is a simple love story with just enough dark humor and offbeat touches to make it fresh and enjoyable.

“Wristcutters” focuses on the premise that there is no end in sight for those who wish to end it all. Instead of slipping into oblivion, they find themselves in a world remarkably similar to, but slightly worse than, ours. Colors are muted, life is repetitive, and smiling is physically impossible.

Such is Zia's fate after he slits his wrists over a breakup with his girlfriend. For a while, he passes time in the afterlife working a crummy job and drinking with his friend. But when Zia (Patrick Fugit) learns that his ex has also committed suicide, he sets out on a quest to find her. The plot becomes more interesting with the ­addition of a hitchhiker, Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), who says she's looking for a way back.

The set design and cinematography are well executed, creating a visual landscape that is fittingly understated despite the oddities encountered. The music also suits the action well, and I loved the Eastern European influence in the soundtrack.

The plot is rather predictable, and the end may not satisfy all viewers, but overall, “Wristcutters” is an absorbing, original film well worth watching. Much like a road trip, its interest lies not in the destination but the journey – the unexpected places, scenery, and characters along the way.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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