Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 2006. Plan B Entertainment. Screenplay by Ryan Murphy, based on the book Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs. Cinematography by Christopher Baffa. Produced by Dede Gardner, Brad Grey, Ryan Murphy, Brad Pitt. Music by James S. Levine. Production Design by Richard Sherman. Costume Design by Lou Eyrich. Film Editing by Byron Smith.
The Addamses are Kooky, the Tenenbaums are Quirky, but these people are just plain Fucked Up. Augusten Burroughs’ heartbreaking memoir has been turned into a savagely funny and heartrending account of growing up under the most unusual of circumstances. After a beautifully glowing childhood spent basking in the erratic energy of his ambitious mother (Annette Bening), Burroughs (played wonderfully by Joseph Cross) is later abandoned as a teenager and left to be raised by her God-complexed shrink (Brian Cox) and his highly unique family in their dilapidated pink mansion. Burroughs’ mother, a victim of a generation of women caught between compulsory housewivery and bra-burning radicalism, places herself unquestionably in the care of her doctor to disastrous effect. Prescribing all manner of experimental anti-psychotics to a woman merely looking for more in her life than society is prepared to offer her, she is turned from a bright ball of manic creativity into a pill-addicted zombie. Meanwhile, her unfortunate son is forced to fend for himself at an age when dealing with acne and getting a date for the prom should be his primary concern. It’s not all tragedy, however; there are pockets of grace that Burroughs manages to find, some in the moments when his mother is lucid but also with his adopted sister (Evan Rachel Wood, excellent) and his mentally unstable, much older lover (Joseph Fiennes). Jill Clayburgh shines as Cox’s perpetually out-of-touch wife, but it’s Bening’s terrific performance that really makes this one zing: her vulnerable, frenetic and highly sympathetic portrayal of a lost soul is just a wonder to behold.
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Annette Bening)