Reviewer's Rating 4 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
Wilbur (Wants To Kill Himself) (2003)
15Contains suicide scenes and strong language

You'd better believe the title: Wilbur (Jamie Sives) really does want to kill himself and he's ready to try anything, from jumping off bridges, to swallowing pills, to sticking his head in gas ovens to get a chance to say hello to Death. The only problem is Death isn't interested. Which is what makes this morose Scottish comedy so heartbreakingly funny.


Don't get us wrong. Death isn't a subject that should usually be taken lightly, but Danish director Lone Scherfig just can't resist looking on the bright side. As anyone who saw her debut film Italian For Beginners already knows, she's a filmmaker with a flair for finding both the bitter and the sweet in every situation.

Wilbur is an immature young Glaswegian lad who's determined to kill himself, even though he's got a loving brother Harbour (Adrian Rawlins) who's ever the optimist and a shop full of second-hand books left to him by his recently deceased father. When Harbour falls in love with shy hospital cleaner Alice (Shirley Henderson), Wilbur's got one more reason to do the deed. Not because he needs the attention, but because he rather fancies Alice himself.


Set in a strange, fantasy Glasgow, this Danish-Scottish-Swedish-French co-production is a truly European film. There's plenty of Scots humour: when someone asks Wilbur what a near-death experience is like, he replies, "It's like being in Wales." But there's also lots of carefully observed character drama, the kind of stuff that would be more at home in a Danish Dogme movie. Perhaps that's why Scherfig uses morose Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (Open Hearts) to inject some real misery into the proceedings.

With terrific performances from Sives (definitely an actor to watch out for) and Henderson (who remains one of Britain's most under-appreciated actresses), this quirky little movie's more charming than morbid, more funny than sad.

End Credits

Director: Lone Scherfig

Writer: Lone Scherfig, Anders Thomas Jensen

Stars: Jamie Sives, Adrian Rawlins, Shirley Henderson, Julia Davis, Mads Mikkelsen, Lisa McKinlay

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Length: 109 minutes

Cinema: 05 December 2003

Country: Denmark/UK/Sweden/France

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