Screened as part of NZIFF 2003
A tender, eccentric love story with a streak of gallows humour, Wilbur transplants the sensibility of Italian for Beginners director Lone Scherfig, most aptly, to Scotland.
“Like Italian for Beginners, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself chronicles the awkward interaction of a group of troubled, childlike grown-ups. This time, however, we’re in Glasgow – or rather, a timeless, fairytale version thereof, comprised of kooky Chinese restaurants, smoke-wreathed hospital wards and labyrinthine, Lewis Carroll bookshops. Through this landscape amble brothers Wilbur and Harbour – the former a cheerfully persistent suicidal depressive, the latter his protector, who must regularly purge their home of razorblades and electrical cable. This precarious family dynamic changes when Harbour marries Alice, a single mother who works as a cleaner in the local hospital. This institution is itself a repository for amiable grotesques – including Mads Mikkelsen’s chainsmoking deadpan psychiatrist and Julia Davis’ man-hungry nurse – from a tradition of macabre medical humour that takes in Carry on Matron, Dennis Potter and Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom. Though Scherfig’s film retains a wry, anarchic Dogme tint – and a distinctly Nordic strain of whimsy – it’s a more choreographed and finished work than her début. Shot on high-definition video, it eschews handheld jitters in favour of a calmer aesthetic… Most impressive of all, however, is the agility with which the script flips between ticklish comedy and gut-churning pathos.” — Hannah McGill, Sight & Sound