Whimsical musical numbers, life affirming, coming of age tale, darkly comedic and suicide is a rare (perhaps unique) series of descriptions for a single film but this 3-D animated musical is able to pull it off to wondrous effect. The Suicide Shop may not be made for children but it is a wonderful tale of family, being true to oneself and having the courage to change your life.
The Tuvache family has owned le Magasin des Suicides since 1854 and maintained it with a quiet, morbid dignity for generations. Life and business is upended when the Tuvache’ third child Alan is born with a horrible affliction; he is always happy and has a real zest for life. This, of course, is a problem for a family who for many generations have dedicated themselves to the sale of end of life implements. At first the family do their best to bring Alan over to their values, including a great scene where his father gives him cigarettes so he can perhaps smoke himself into an early grave or just to add a certain morbid mystique to the boy. It will come down to a battle of wills between Alan and the rest of his family to see if they continue in the suicide business or work to bring some cheer to the film.
Paris is drawn as a grey lifeless city filled with dreary people and often shown in the rain. This is a perfect setting for a film about suicide, yet the store is ironically filled with life. The shop is full of colour, with wonderful glass bottles filled with poison and other interesting looking deadly implements. Even the family is drawn with colour, the Father is dressed in a green suit and the Mother has a shock of red hair and dress to match. They are not depicted in a morbid fashion like the Addams family but rather as reserved and serious small business owners who provide an essential service.
The film tackles a very difficult and taboo subject in suicide without demonizing the act or the family who promotes it. Suicide is shown as a natural act with no shame making no judgements. The film portrays that change must come from within and on one’s own terms not pushed upon you by others and of course a few great musical numbers don’t hurt either.
The Suicide Shop
Directed by: Patrice Leconte
Written by Jason Poynton
Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.