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2003 - NR - 111 Mins.
Director: Lone Scherfig
Producer: Sisse Graum Olsen
Written By: Anders Thomas Jensen and Lone Scherfig
Starring: Jamie Sives, Adrian Rawlins, Lisa McKinlay, Shirley Henderson, Mads Mikkelsen
Review by: Jennie Kermode
Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself is an odd little film made in accordance with the principles of the Dogma school of which director Scherfig was formerly a member, and filmed in and around Glasgow, Scotland.

Glasgow in the autumn and winter is very different from continental Europe in the summer, so this is gloomy in appearance as well as in mood, and in places it might benefit from sharper camerawork to compensate for the lighting problems; but by and large it's easy to overlook these flaws and find oneself enmeshed in the story.

Centering on the relationship between two brothers who have inherited their father's second hand bookshop, the story develops as a series of vignettes before developing into a more directed narrative. Incidental characters and incidental issues are raised throughout, so that the central characters come to represent something greater than themselves.

The film contrasts the experiences of people who want to stay alive against the odds with those of people who want to die despite apparent opportunity and support. Its understanding of issues relating to serious illness is impressive, with plenty of sharply perceptive humour and a refreshing lack of sentimentality. This approach also applies to its treatment of relationships. The viewer is permitted to sit back and watch without being told how to react, but strong performances ensure that this doesn't result in a lack of connection to the characters.

Besides the two brothers, we meet Alice, the woman who comes to share their lives; and her daughter Mary, one of several impressive child performers in a film with an irreverent approach to adult-child interaction. Some of the incidental characters are disappointingly two-dimensional, and the neat way in which
they are provided with happy endings is somewhat trite, but these flaws are noticeable only because of the high standard of the script and direction as a whole. On the one hand, Wilbur might be trying to qualify for most depressing film of the year; on the other, it is full of dark yet affectionate humour, and maintains a sense of fun in a cold climate.
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

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