Another excellent production from ThinkFilms, where the past is dragged along as the future becomes epigrammatic and silent.
Evan (Wes Bentley) chances to earn a modest living writing suicide notes for clients who no longer have the desire or the strength to live. His poetry is in dissonance with his imperturbable and aloof demeanor, which deadens the aura of every frame he is involved in, even the more erotic and moving. However the plot hits a high note when Charlotte catches a glimpse of him at her brother's funeral, whose suicide note was authored by Evan. She does not become acquainted with the nature of Evan's poetic engagements and amid strife and guilt becomes endeared and ultimately enamored with the numb introspective intellectually brooding Evan. Charlotte - here played by Winona Ryder with effortless wit and sophistication, teeming with energy and spontaneity - chases after Evan, for what initially seems to be a means of making amends and an effective way to grieve, only to eventuate into a full-blown passionate love affair which Evan fails to repel intent on keeping his stoic persona, for his resolve is overwhelmed by the appeal of his ex-client's beauty and joy de vivre, her flair and her impulsive absorption into a life she is emotionally engaged in, and one which, to the contrary, Evan distrusts and lives only at a distance, removed from the exuberance it excites in Charlotte.
Matters are further complicated as Evan befriends a client (Ray Romano), whose honest pitiful and cynic character offers many of the laughs in this production amid the torture of a numbness that echoes in the hollow inner lives of the prospective suicides.
We increasingly become aware of the pain Evan has been repressing and silencing and the cathartic effects he gleans from his sinister job. Amid quotes of terrifying darkness, and an emotional vacuum we find the impetuous Charlotte and the humor-twisted friend-client wrest Evan from the lull of his life which implodes when threatened by a thief with words reminiscent of his abusive father's violence. The cold and detached protagonist is played to perfection by Bentley whose acting style lends him agreeably to such roles.
The writing is extraordinary, on par with Being John Malkovich and The Eternal Sunshine, but the directing is rather impervious to the brooding feel of the movie, and tends to contrast with the dark comedy which opportunely offers relief and gut wrenching laughter. Sinister but philosophically deep, eloquent and scintillating whenever Ryder is on the set, we become stirred and jolted as we recognize how emotionally retarded human beings are and how much pain must be suppressed to live as socially integrated human creatures. The end sizzles with raw energy and emits an overcharged tone of loss and redemption deadened just enough to dispel despair, blunted by the sterility of a love affair that spurs Evan to new horizons however hopeless and alienated from desire they may be. The quiet remains and pierces deepest when Charlotte turns her back on an affair that is impossible, unhealthy and warped. The acting and the script make this an exceptional viewing, if only the directing was as able we'd have a masterpiece.
This production, is described indelibly in one of Evan's note, where we linger on drifting away from memory's shore...