Running With Scissors - What's in a Name
| Sometimes a title is just so good you canít resist. Running With Scissors, the movie based on the memoir of writer Augusten Burroughs, has a great title and one hopes that the movie lives up to it. It sort of does.
Burroughsí life story is a crazy one. Surrounded by insane people, itís a surprise he made it out alive at all. This is the kind of story that lends itself to good dramedy material. The characters say and do crazy things that make you both laugh and cry. There is a lot of hurt and a lot of chaos and in the end our hero finds himself and moves away from the crazies.
Unfortunately, despite all this good potential, there is something that keeps Running With Scissors from being a great film.
Itís certainly not the cast. The formidable Brian Cox, Gwyneth Paltrow (in a wonderfully against type role), the amazing Evan Rachel Wood, Joseph Fiennes (playing even more against type), and Joseph Cross in the lead are all wonderfully fun to watch. Alec Baldwin, whoís in a bit of a renaissance right now, is quietly frustrated through the film. Itís been along time since I have found him sympathetic but he works it so well here.
However the show belongs to Annette Benning. Benning, who has been robbed twice at the Oscars by the overrated Hilary Swank, gives another perfect performance as Mrs. Burroughs, the main insanity in little Augustenís life. She is at once, funny, frightening and tragic. She breaks your heart and makes you both hate and love her over and over again. She balances the character so well, never taking her over the top and never betraying the humanity of the woman.
Still there is something not quite excellent about Scissors. Director Ryan Murphy never seems to find the right rhythm. He lingers a little to long on the jokes so they miss their beats by a long shot. He also seems to dangle the pathos too much taking away some of its emotional power. Most of the film feels a bit awkward, and not in a way that intensifies the story. Instead the clumsiness seems to diminish it.
Still, Running With Scissors is worth seeing for the cast, especially Benning who hasnít picked a bad role since The Siege in 1998. And also for the title.