To say that “The Suicide Brothers” is something of a whimsical bit of surrealism is an understatement. “The Suicide Brothers” is an utter demonstration in absolute folklore that meshes urban legend, Tim Burton fantasy, and as an absolute demonstration of that classic tale of a figure seeking death and finding it when they’ve stopped searching. Rupert Friend’s “The Suicide Brothers” is a look at two brothers in the dark forest of Bavaria who take it upon themselves to engage in a ritual suicide attempt almost every single night.
Dressed in leiderhosen and donning an almost Pinocchio-like facade, rather than seeking absolute life in their reality, they instead look for death in a world that will not grant them it, and they’re incapable of really grasping their own fates thanks to their own ineptitude and their fairy godmother who watches over them every night and relies on their utter faulty planning to garner their lives just one more night until they cease their attempts… or until she’s finally stopped caring. Keira Knightley is an angelic minx looking on at Barath and Bourbon as they literally begin their suicidal efforts like clock work first over estimating the length of their noose, then poorly loading their pistols, and so on until they’ve likely had enough.
Knightley is gorgeous as this godmother who watches angrily unable to do much of anything to cease their suicide except wait for them to screw up and eat their baked goods begrudgingly. Rupert Friend and Tom Mison are delightfully morbid as these two gents who just want to end their lives in spite of living on something of a beautiful however haunting landscape where snow is abundant and boredom is infinite. Richard Van Den Bergh’s visual effects are masterful serving to compliment some awe inspiring set design and brilliant landscapes that add that touch of whimsy and tongue in cheek lore that keeps “The Suicide Brothers” on the verge of being confused with something from Tim Burton in his prime. The ultimate fate of the brothers is predictable but delivered with such grotesque performances from the two men that it’s quite harrowing to endure.
When all is said and done, “The Suicide Brothers” is a hypnotic film, one so possessive of hypnotic and compelling material it will have you sitting right through the unusual German dance number performed by Friend and Mison. I guarantee you that final song will be in your head for literal hours. Destined to be compared to Burton and Hans Christian Anderson’s classic violent folk tales, “The Suicide Brothers” is a marvelous little short fantasy about living in a winter wonderland and passing the time by trying to commit the most heinous of crimes upon ones self, all of which is foiled by human error, and a disgruntled fairy god mother. I highly suggest sitting down to watch this if you’re in the market for classic folklore and irony.