Wes Bentley, Winona Ryder, Ray Romano
Abel: I love music. I just wish I didn’t need it to pay the bills.
Evan: Yeah, but if you didn’t write music, what would you do?
Abel: I would buy a cliff.
Abel: I would buy a cliff where people could come and throw s*** off. You know, like fax machines and computers or whatever. Things that piss them off ’cause they didn’t work right. Like an outlet for machine rage. And the whole thing would be video taped in slow-motion so they could watch their heap of s*** break into a million pieces back at home. Plus, for an extra couple bucks, I would attach an explosive so it would blow up on impact. Just like they do in the movies. A big fire ball…that would be cool.
Evan (Bentley) is a writer, mostly of poetry, who has figured out that he can make good money writing suicide notes for people. He interviews them, takes what they want to say, and expresses it in a very eloquent way for them. At one of his clients’ funeral, Evan meets the deceased’s sister, Charlotte (Ryder). Charlotte takes a liking to the reclusive Evan and eventually the two start a relationship, but it’s destined for problems because Evan has had to lie about how he knew Charlotte’s brother and about what he does for a living. Meanwhile, Evan is trying to write a note for his latest client, Abel (Romano).
I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. I didn’t expect much, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Wes Bentley was good as an intellectual, detached, lonely guy, and it was great to see Winona Ryder in a good role again. She does a good job of being charming, while still displaying a few off-putting tendencies that annoy Evan at first. Not to mention, I’ve always had a celebrity crush on her, and she still looks pretty great.
The first half or so of the movie has a fair amount of dark comedy and quirky moments, but the last third of it takes on more of a serious tone. It almost loses its way in the midst of the dramatic turns, but I think the performances by the leads keeps it grounded well in reality. Nobody goes way over the top, and none of the characters act too irrationally. It’s always good to see characters behave in a realistic way.
Ray Romano is good here too. His character is written in a way that makes the end of the movie – the last scene, in fact – more believable. I’m not sure I would have gone the same direction with the end that the filmmakers chose, but it still works.
The movie doesn’t get too preachy about suicide, on either side of the moral argument about it. It uses the subject as more of a dramatic device to move the story and characters forward. The end might be a little tv-movie-of-the-week, but it still doesn’t wrap everything up in a nice little bow, and as I mentioned above, it works because of the performances throughout the movie.
A nice cliff somewhere might make for a good investment.
10 – 1.1 for a sort of all around unbelievable plot – .5 for a not entirely satisfying ending – 1.2 for some meandering moments here and there + .5 for Winona freakin’ Ryder = 7.7