Mental Filmness -
A few people had the same response when I originally mentioned a film festival based solely on mental health: "Wouldn't that be too depressing?" The truth is, there are so many different approaches you can take with the topic, and a few of our most humorous films were actually about suicide. The Cremer Brothers' "Assisted Suicide" falls into that category.
"Assisted Suicide" is brilliant because it plays upon the central dilemma faced by most people who fantasize about suicide: how to actually do it? Lead character Kristen (played with the perfect mix of melancholia and apathy by Melissa Malone) has been brutally depressed for awhile now. But as she Googles and experiments around, she's running into a roadblock a lot of people who think about it do. How to actually accomplish the act? How do I tie a noose so it works? What if I injure myself while I jump off the roof and just end up in the hospital instead? Will slitting my wrists be too messy? And the ever-classic Googling of "How many of X pills does it take to kill yourself," which often disappointingly leads to suicide prevention and addiction recovery websites.
While there is something funny about Kristen's indecisiveness when it comes to methodology, it will probably also ring painfully true to people who have Googled around for suicide strategies. The clean, painless, and failsafe suicide is the Holy Grail of the clinically depressed everywhere, and just as elusive.
In the midst of this pondering, Kristen's friend Nancy (played with over-the-top perkiness by Diann Gogerty) drops in. This could easily lead to stereotypical "rescuing," but this film is too smart for that. Nancy goes all in with Kristen's plan, and wants to help her craft the perfect suicide note. Of course this is a subtle ploy on Nancy's part to find out Kristen's motive and try to offer alternatives, but she never offers platitudes and is never pushy or dismissive. Their personalities play off each other really well.
Nancy's "intervention" plays on another unintentionally humorous aspect of suicide: the publicity. In order for it not to be a meaningless act, one's suicide, and its reasons, should be broadcasted. Nancy advises Kristen to post the note on "both Facebook and Twitter.”
We are hoping this painfully funny and painfully true take on suicide will resonate with our audience and provide some much-needed levity.
Art is Alive Magazine -
Okay, I will probably go to hell for laughing about suicide, but this movie is just too wickedly funny – and objectively speaking, it should be far from funny. It starts out with Kristen (Melissa Malone), who is determined to commit suicide, and the only thing that stands between her and eternal sleep is figuring out a way to do the deed. She wants to go out in style; as in, she wants to make an impact with her death that she never made while alive. However, Kristen does not want it to hurt too much or run the risk of surviving said action. Hence, her suicide will require a bit of time and preparation – enough for her friend Nancy (Diann Gogerty) to stumble into her apartment. It takes no time for Nancy to figure out what Kristen is about to do. That being said, Nancy does not come across as terribly bright, as she is quick to give her advice on how to end her life. She tells her what to write in her suicide note and which loose ends of her life to tie up before leaving this plane of existence – all to hilarious results.
Now, I will not even argue with anyone who says suicide is not meant to be a laughing matter, because indeed it is not humorous. Assisted Suicide is wildly funny and does not make fun of suicide as such, but rather packs an anti-suicide message into a humorous story. The directors do not try to drive any sort of agenda home. They make a successful effort to entertain while subliminally making audiences think. In addition to all of the strong acting and capable direction, there exists some very clever writing. Apparently, the Cremer Brothers just really like to spin a yarn - getting the most out of the movie’s basic situation and putting a lot of spins and “what ifs” onto it. This duo works the story in such a way that intrigues the audience in a light-footed manner. This truly thought out type of structure helps keep things from becoming repetitive or redundant. It allows for the film to flow rather beautifully.
Well worth a watch for sure!
Written By: Michael Haberfelner