Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Original title: Le Magasin Des Suicides
France/Canada/Belgium, 2012. ARP Sélection, Caramel Film, Diabolo Films, Entre Chien et Loup, Kaibou Productions, La Petite Reine, Pôle Image de Liège. Screenplay by Patrice Leconte, based on the novel by Jean Teule. Produced by Thomas Langmann, Emmanuel Montamat, Gilles Podesta, Andre Rouleau. Music by Etienne Perruchon. Production Design by Florian Thouret, Regis Vidal. Toronto International Film Festival 2012.
It’s tough to make a business out of helping people kill themselves, but thankfully the gloomy, animated Paris of this minor charmer is full of sad and desperate folks who keep the shop’s door spinning year in and year out. The family that has run the Suicide Shop for many generations is itself of a warped attitude after years of selling their wares, which range from nooses to poisons to even a harakiri sword (with the father of the clan perversely named Mishima). All efforts are made to ensure that the despondent person wanting to end their life does it with the greatest of convenience, though repeat customers tend to be a problem. When the family introduces a new addition to the clan, disappointed to bring life into a world that only ends with death, they give birth to something of an anomaly: a smiley-faced charmer who can’t help but see the bright side of everything, his own family included. Patrice Leconte makes a wisely-advised move to animation that aims to be another Triplets of Belleville but its elements don’t add up: the characters are adorable but not particularly deep, the story turns its corners too quickly and, most disappointing, it features a musical score without a single memorable tune in it. The kid at the heart of the story really is effectively appealing, but otherwise there isn’t that much to recommend it to anyone beyond the most devoted of animation lovers.