SXSW Review: My Suicide

2008
Un-rated
105 minutes
Go Code Productions

Two Stars

“My Suicide” is the title of both the movie and the movie-within-a-movie, in which an alienated, pop-culture-obsessed teenage boy named Archie decides to film his suicide for his film class project. But his plans are complicated when the announcement of said project finally wins the attention of the popular girl Archie has had his eye on.

The premise sounds promising to be sure. But the execution (no pun intended) is excruciating. My issues with this film were so numerous that it’s difficult to know where to begin.

I’ll start with the clichés. My god, the clichés! Why does Archie want to kill himself? Well, his parents ignore him. They let him live in the pool house and leave him be edit his movies. (I would have killed for that kind of freedom when I was 16.) Also, ignoring him is the girl of his dreams. A beautiful, blonde, popular rich girl named Sierra who seems to have the perfect life. But guess what? Even the beautiful people have problems! Never saw that coming.

Archie is a product of the information age. He speaks almost entirely in movie quotes, many of them non-sequiturs. He’s constantly doing impressions. He blames his mother for taping him as a child, but he has chosen to perpetuate his life on camera. He is an anti-social narcissist. And he’s very annoying. I couldn’t wait for him to stop doing Brando and get around to killing himself.

The day Archie announces his big project to the class is the day he enters the radar of his peers. His announcement results in his arrest in front of the entire school. Sierra is impressed and decides she wants to interview him. (Does every teenager own and operate a video camera these days?) After a duel-action invasive interview, camera-to-camera, they become inseparable. They’ve entered into a suicide pact. At that moment, I realized Archie is probably not going to kill himself. Redemption is sure to come in some form or another. Because this movie is a cliché so only clichéd things can happen. Damn.

The good news is that the acting wasn’t that bad. It helped that they used actual teenagers to play the characters instead of twenty-something name actors. Too bad about the dialog. (Or rather, what little dialog there was, not pilfered from superior films.) Also, David Carradine was somewhat entertaining as the grizzled documentarion whom Archie idolizes.

Perhaps the core problem with the film is the fact that director David Lee Miller is an older man. I’m not good at the guess-my-age game, but it’s likely that someone with gray hair would not have the freshest recollection of his teens. Even if he did, the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s were vastly different eras than the one we’re in. Hell, I didn’t even have the internet in my house until high school. The notion of a video editing suite and green screen in my room was a pipe dream at best. So maybe that’s why nearly every note in this film rang false.

Then again, his directorial debut, “Breakfast of Aliens,” was just horrible in every imaginable way, from the acting to the story. So perhaps David Lee Miller is actually just a crappy filmmaker. Either way, sitting through “My Suicide” made me contemplate my own.

Originally Posted on FilmThreat.com (now defunct).

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