EIFF review: A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide

The darkest of subjects is treated with Scottish humour in A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide, which got its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Review by Nicola Brown

Tom Collins plans to kill himself. So far his attempts have been unsuccessful, which he puts down to a lack of imagination. After his bid to take his own life in a public location is foiled by the heroics of a passer-by, he begins therapy sessions with the unsympathetic Dr Watson.

With several failed suicides under his belt, Scott starts a blog, hoping to offer help to others and execute a successful one of his own. Believing he was put on the earth to leave it, he intends to do so in a ‘spectacular’ fashion. Though Tom’s desire to end his life is tested when he meets fellow patient Eve, who comparatively has a passion for life. A community service job he must also carry out helping out the old and dejected Mr Nielsen also forces him to evaluate his own life.

A small-budget, Scottish set film with homegrown actors is sadly a rarity, often out staged by its sparkly, Hollywood competitors. Despite its attempt at that uniquely Scottish sarcastic and dry humour, this film failed to produce the laughs that the plotline cried out for. The premise behind A Practical Guide is an innovative one: tackling the sensitive issue of suicide in an honest, yet comical way. Aside from a handful of laughs though, the film did not maintain a steady comic timing throughout and at times the interactions were cringe-worthy to watch.

To give credit where it’s due, the animations that punctuate the narrative are quite stunning. A particularly memorable one involved a date, which required a healthy dose of imagination to spruce up the last minute change of location. The visually stunning graphics captured the charged mood of the date.

A Practical Guide to a Spectacular Suicide had promise, with its original take on a delicate topic. Whilst the animations and character relationships give maturity to the film, its comic timing will divide audiences.

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