21 02 2018

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Wilbur (Wants to Kill Himself) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
15 11 2004

Directed by Lone Scherfig

WilburThe words 'bitter-sweet comedy' sound the first warning bell. James Sives's 'how cute am I?' face on the posters doesn't add confidence. Wilbur (Sives) wants to kill himself (bitter!). He isn't very good at doing it (aw, sweet!). To joke about suicide, the jokes need to be awfully good. Here they are embarrassingly unfunny. Wilbur and his older brother Harbour (Adrian Rawlins) lead a hand to mouth existence running a second-hand bookshop. Into this, selling books left behind by patients at the hospital where she has just lost her job, walks impoverished single mother Alice (Shirley Henderson), obviously destined for romance. Will she choose kind, sensible, homely old Harbour, with his dodgy accent, or handsome, doomed Wilbur? Fortunately a tumour-ex-machina intervenes to make it easier for her, and the film ends in an altogether too cosy family Christmas scene in a snow-covered hilltop cemetery.

jump!How the director of the delicate Italian for Beginners can get things so wrong is a mystery. Wilbur, puppy eyes not withstanding, is unlikeable from the outset. Any laughs are out of embarrassment rather than humour. The plot hovers between fairy tale and scruffy realism, and achieves neither. I did quite like the sepia-tinted bookshop, Black Books on mogadon, and probably the only poetic scene in the film is when it is filled with little girls in their white party dresses, scrambling round like little white mice. Until one of our heroes is sick on them - what laughs, eh? Just in one particular respect I found the film disquieting - if it had been foreign (Danish director), would I have accepted its quirkiness and found it charming? Is it really a critics' bullshit detector? Hmmm...Pass.


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