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‘Le Magasin des Suicides’

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In the miserable satire-world of French animated comedy “Suicide Shop,” people are fined by the cops and billed for damages for failed suicide attempts. Of course in present-day Japan, this is the sad reality, where bereaved relatives get a bill for the disruption caused by a loved one who jumps in front of a train, which may render this film less amusing to local audiences.

Based on a novel by Jean Teule, the movie aims for the gothic black-humor of something like “Harold and Maude,” but comes up short. Creepy Mishima (a Raul Julia look-alike) and his frumpy wife Lucrece run a small shop dedicated to helping people off themselves successfully: rope for nooses, poisons, katanas for harakiri — you name it, they provide. The trouble arrives when their newborn child Alan turns out to be a smiling, laughing cutie, breaking the mood of dour misery that allows their business to prosper.

Le Magasin des Suicides (Suicide Shop)
Rating

Patrice Leconte (“The Girl on the Bridge,” “Monsieur Hire”) is a notoriously hit-or-miss director, and his first attempt at animation is a bit of both. While the hand-drawn, cartoony look of the film is welcome, the jokes are thin on the ground, and the life-affirming ending all too predictable. It’s also a musical, which probably knocked a star off for me, but “Sweeney Todd” fans may like it more.