Can suicide be laughed at? The film Wilbur (Wants to Kill Himself) injects humor into the subject, yet the results are much more poignant than funny.
Wilbur (Jamie Sives) is trying to kill himself. In any way he can imagine. Hanging, drowning, electrocution…it just never works out. His mother died when he was young, his father has just passed away, and he and his caring brother Harbour (Adrian Rawins) have inherited a bankrupt bookstore. Harbour takes Wilbur in and watches over him, thinking he just needs a girlfriend to get over this whole suicide thing. Plenty of women are interested, especially the nurse where he goes for therapy—until he's kicked out for bringing the other patients down. He and the nurse get involved in a whole lot of sensual ear licking. But his real attraction is to the hospital cleaner, Alice (Shirley Henderson). Unfortunately, Alice, who has a young daughter, is marrying Wilbur's brother, Harbour. So the four live as a family, and the sexual tension begins to mount between Wilbur and Harbour. But then, shocking revelations are made…about Wilbur's real reasons for being suicidal, and about Harbour's future…and everything changes.
Described as a dark or black comedy, I feel "Wilbur" is really a sad drama with some bizarre humor injected into it. The performances bring incredible depth to the three main characters and I felt for them more than I felt like laughing at their predicaments. The humorous moments in all their absurdity were indeed funny, but overall, they didn't keep the tone of the rest of the film. Yet, having them in place also pulled the movie away from being downright depressing. So yeah, I'm saying I can't decide how much I liked or disliked the humor—I think maybe I wanted more of it so it could have been really dark and twisted? Of course, the humor helps bring out the human characteristics of the leads. There I go again.
It may take you a while to warm up to the film. It didn't grab me at first, and seemed to plod along, but once the characters were flushed out and the plot began to unfold, I became thoroughly engrossed and curious to find out what would be the fate of Wilbur—who was played perfectly by the unassumingly sexy Jamie Sives. You couldn't help but fall in love with the tragic character and all his darkly comic flaws.
The film aspect ratio is 2:35:1, letterboxed. Although the print is clean and the rich darks add some depth and contrast, the image is soft due to edge enhancement and major haloing. The film shows signs of grain, and the color is washed out and pale. The flesh tones lean towards a yellow tint.
The 2.0 stereo offers left/right travel, but the bass response is gravely, and the overall audio track is muddy sounding, which makes it more difficult to follow the British accents of the actors.
Slim pickings. Scene Selection offers 16 chapter breaks. The trailer for the film is included, and it is carefully edited to make the movie seem a lot more like a comedy than it actually is. Finally, there is a three page text biography of the director Lone Scherfig.
Loaded with excellent performances, Wilbur (Wants to Kill Himself) sheds some rather dark light on the topic of suicide. But in the end, you're going to be watching this movie for its heartfelt drama and not its morbid humor.