A- A A+

Walking through a human zoo

1 Comment
Richard Leonard |  02 April 2007

Walking through a human zooRunning With Scissors. Starring Annette Bening, Gwyneth Paltrow, Joseph Cross, Brian Cox, Alec Baldwin and Joseph Fiennes. Directed by Ryan Murphy. 116 mins. Rated MA 15+.  website

In 2002 Augusten Burroghs published his autobiography, Running with Scissors: A Memoir. It purports to tell the story of his very disturbed childhood.

Augusten (Cross) is born into a highly dysfunctional family where his father (Baldwin) is an alcoholic and his mother, Deidre, (Bening) is a mediocre poet with great ambition and a mental illness. She is soon to be a barbiturate addict as well.

When her life and marriage fall apart, Deidre sends Augustine to live with Dr Finch (Cox), her psychiatrist. The Finch house is a case-study in how the mad can take over the asylum. There is the controlling patriarch, the repressed mother, an obsessive compulsive sister, another sister is a typically angry adolescent, and the adopted son is a predatory homosexual and a psychotic.

With his mother coming and going from the house and his life, Augustine has to find his way to adulthood.


Walking through a human zooThis very dark tale will appeal to only a few, but a review here is warranted because others may be attracted by the star-studded cast. True to their calibre, the acting is sometimes fine indeed, but they all work so hard on such a bleak story which goes nowhere.

Running With Scissors feels like walking through a human zoo where we observe the insane antics of one caged character after another.

The only redeeming feature of this tale of abusive dysfunction is that Augustine survived it, and wrote it up. Or so he claims. The authenticity of the story behind the book is now contested, and the film opens with the disconcerting line that, "no one will believe it, but it happened." Maybe. But even as a fictional story it makes for disturbing cinema and questionable entertainment.

 



Comments

Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Submitted comments

I really enjoyed Running With Scissors and felt it was a film which wholly complements the book; it wasn't necessarily successful as a stand-alone film. I had the impression that Burroughs had told one story in the book, and allowed the film to tell the same story from a different perspective, with different emphases.

Aurora Lowe 03 April 2007

Similar articles

Recovering Jesus through poetry

Philip Harvey | 02 April 2007Recovering Jesus through poetryJohn Deane grew up in Catholic Ireland, which has now seen the Church questioned and rejected. But unlike those who have walked away, Deane goes to poetry to help pick up the pieces of a broken religion.


Politically correct dancing

1 Comment
Richard Leonard | 02 April 2007

Politically correct dancingA new ocker comedy depicts young protégés at a suburban dance school immersing themselves in choreographies about starvation, people dying of AIDS and the nuclear holocaust.


Film locates warmth in Stasi darkness

2 Comments
Tim Kroenert | 02 April 2007Film locates warmth in Stasi darknessThe Lives of Others is part of the recent wave of acclaimed German films focusing on the country’s troubled 20th century, while simultaneously seeking out stories of hope, inspiration or simple humanity.


Mark's Jesus goes beyond the Church

5 Comments
Nahum Ayliffe | 02 April 2007

Mark's Jesus goes beyond the ChurchJohn Carroll's The Existential Jesus affirms a view expressed by Nick Cave that the bloodless, placid Jesus offered by the Church denies Christ his potent, creative sorrow, and the boiling anger that confronts us so forcibly in the Gospel of St Mark.


The dark gospel of Martin Scorsese

1 Comment
Scott Stephens | 02 April 2007The dark gospel of Martin Scorsese Scorsese’s is a fallen world. Like Cain, his tortured characters are driven further into the wastelands – whether the desert or the untamed streets of New York – by their acts of almost mythical violence, until any remaining vestige of hope or virtue is finally extinguished.