the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Running with Scissors


















I write film and TV reviews at DVDFanatic.com. Here are synopsis' and links to those reviews.

Running With Scissors is a schizophrenic film. It simply doesn’t know what it wants to be — a witty and wacky satire, or a serious and heartfelt drama. As a result, the entire film wheels around wildly on unstable cinematic feet before collapsing in a heap of earnest yet irreconcilable best intentions.

Running with Scissors was highly anticipated. Based on the popular memoir by Augusten Burroughs of the same name, Scissors tells a wildly unbelievable yet supposedly true story (after the “Million Little Pieces” scandal, who can tell anymore?) of an awkward teenage boy (Joseph Cross) sent to live with his mother’s psychiatrist after she has an emotional breakdown and comes out as a lesbian.

Living with his creatively-depressed mother (Annette Bening) who likes to give her kitchen utensils moon baths and his alcoholic father (Alec Baldwin) who sees nothing of himself in his son was weird enough, but nothing has prepared young Augusten for living with the loony Finches in a house that would have terrified the Adam’s family.

Dr. Finch (Brian Cox) prescribes psychotropic drugs by the dump truck full and divines the future from his bowel movements; the long-suffering Mrs. Finch (Jill Clayburgh) has watched her own personality and ambitions sink beneath those of her husband; eldest daughter, Hope (Gwyneth Paltrow), communes with dead animals; youngest sister, Natalie (Evan Rachel Wood), likes to play with old electroshock machines; and an earlier adopted son, Neil (Joseph Fiennes), is a 33-year-old pedophile who lives in a shed out back and introduces the teenaged Augusten to homosexual sex. Despite being abandoned, Augusten never gives up on his increasingly unbalanced mother, nor himself, struggling to simply stay sane and discover what it means to be a part of a family in the midst of the insane asylum he must now call home.

If you think this sounds hilarious, you’re right. If you think it sounds horrific, you’re right. The problem is that the film tries to capture both moments at once and aside from a few lucky breaks, utterly fails. There are indeed some laugh-out-loud moments as well as some genuinely moving moments of surprisingly great power. But when placed in the same time and space, they cancel each other out, making for a grotesque sludge of a film that works in parts but not as a whole.

With all that said, there is something to lavishly praise here: Annette Benning. Benning is simply terrific—at turns loopy, maniacal, sweet, and despondent. Her role as Augusten’s unstable mother was easily one of the best performances of the year. That it was forgotten at Oscar time is a sad testament to this film’s inadequacies, not to hers or her terrific cast members’.

To read the full review, click here.

2 Comments:

Anonymous nate said...

This was edited by my high school friend Byron Smith, who hit the big time editing Nip/Tuck. Haven't kept in touch since we graduated, but still... pret-ty cool.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Wow. Cool. Call that guy!

8:12 PM  

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