Dysfunctional Latvian Family Is Fodder for Gallows Humor about Suicide
A dysfunctional Latvian family whose females have historically been haunted by suicidal thoughts and deep bouts of depression is the backstory to a weird comedy.
The protagonist, Signe Baumane decides to traces this inherited predisposition back to her grandmother, a mother of eight, who she knows tried to commit suicide by drowning. Her grandmother’s attempt to drown herself in a river in Riga failed because she forgot to put rocks in her pockets.
She calls it “a funny film about depression.”
The forgotten rocks obviously explains the title of this dark animated comedy, which is a complete misadventure.
Ms. Baumane wrote, directed and narrated it, in a heavy Latvian accent. She wonders if she can escape her destiny, which five others could not.
The intriguingly illustrated animation contains an arresting combination of drawings and papier mache, capturing a very weird group portrait of weird women, each of whom has an insatiable death wish.
Speaking about one of her relatives’ unsuccessful attempts on her own life, Signe says “Her body had a stronger will to live than her mind had a will to die.”
Delving into the etiquette of hanging oneself, Signe suggests wearing adult diapers because you are sure to poop and pee in your pants and that would leave a terrible mess for your loved ones to clean up.
Such gallows humor is par for the course in this relentlessly-dark comedy, and this offbeat departure into depravity is engaging enough, provided you’re in the mood to look at the lighter side of suicide. At least the story ends on a high note, namely, with Signe expressing gratitude to her mother for forcing her to socialize instead of just sitting around the house listening to the self-destructive voices inside her head.
Who knew that hara-kiri was such a hilarious subject?
Very Good (2.5 stars)
Running time: 89 minutes
Distributor: Zeitgeist Films