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Running With Scissors (2006) R 120min

November 14th, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 2,616 Views

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This all-star cast movie is based on Augusten Burroughs’s best-selling novel memoir.

The plot: Augusten Burroughs (Jack Kaeding -> Joseph Cross) was growing up in a dysfunctional family, with alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin) and mentally unstable mother (Annette Bening) with her delusions of grandeur. As a boy he was handed over to his mother’s therapist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) for adoption, and spends his adolescent years with his eccentric family. He skips school and practices cosmetology, gets an older male lover (Joseph Fiennes) and becomes friend with Finch’s younger daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).

I suppose this movie qualifies as a dark comedy. These families, both Burroughs and Finch, are so dysfunctional and everybody is so psychotic I could not wait for the movie to end because I felt like I’m going to get infected with this psychosis if I watch it any longer. Every character felt repulsive, yet somehow I also cared for every character. I felt compelled to try to help them. Well, not all of them. Some of them I just watched like a freak show. It’s a depressing movie because everybody is depressed because nobody can really do what they want to do for some reason and feel trapped in their bodies, families and life. Augusten’s mother, Dierdre, was a nervous wreck for all his life. She has these delusions of grandeur thinking she’s on the verge of becoming a famous poet. She teaches in the poetry club. She’s always angry, always fighting with her husband, always feeling claustrophobic in her life, always frustrated. The doctor did more damage then good with his “treatment”. He’s a pretty sick puppy too. Again, several scenes were rather funny, such as one where Finch’s cat died and when he thought God is talking to him through his crap and decided to create a shrine.

The acting was descent, particularly Cox’s and Bening’s. I love Gwyneth Paltrow, but she was not in a role where she can act to her full potential. The only character I really liked in this film was Finch’s wife (Jill Clayburgh). Only for her adopting Augusten turns out to be a good thing because he is the sun she always wanted.

It’s a very strange movie. It felt very long too. Think of Royal Tenenbaum, but with darker humor and just not as funny, or Requiem For a Dream, but a comedy.  The story was painful, but ultimately it’s about the power to forgive and to go on. It’s also a story about people who’ve been given so much freedom they don’t know what to do with it: “I want rules and boundaries”, Augusten cries.

Directed, written and produced by Ryan Murphy wrote and directed. Other producers were Augusten Burroughs, Brad Pitt and others. Nominated for Golden Globe.

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Tags: Comedy · DVD · Dark comedy · Drama · Movies

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