“Wristcutters: A Love Story,” Goran Dukic’s loping fairytale comedy of a non-Utopian afterlife, is a rare animal: left out in the desert to die, a year and a half after a strong reception at Sundance 2006, but no real commercial interest, it’s come back to life and found its way back to civilization. A sun-parched road trip through California’s Inland empire, “Wristcutters” finds Zia (Patrick Fugit, at 23 and no longer the sweet-faced, callow lad of “Almost Famous”) committing suicide over the love of his life and waking to find himself in a world “just a little worse” than the downbeat existence he’d known already, down to finding that his inamorata is also in the afterlife. A road trip ensues in this adaptation of Israeli fiction writer Etgar Keret’s 1998 short story “Kneller’s Happy Campers,” which some have compared to a “Wizard Of Oz”-like journey to personal discovery, including Eugene (Shea Whigham), a Russian suicide and ex-rocker; hitchhiker Shannyn Sossamon and, as any movie situated in remote desert haunts pines for, Tom Waits. Dukic’s most notable gift may be for deadpan amid absurdism: whimsy hardly ever arrives in the story’s complications. The song score, notably, is composed of tunes from musicians who were themselves suicides or, at the very least, have shuffled past Buffalo. As Dukic cheerily told me earlier this year, “I think that is the main daydream in the movie, that by killing yourself, you’re going to escape your problems, right? Wherever you go with your problems, purgatory or hell or heaven, you’ll have to work on them wherever you go.” 91m. (Ray Pride)
” Wristcutters: A Love Story” opens Friday at Pipers Alley.