In the end, this film, which may or may not be a real documentary, is a bit of a let down. As a character study, however, it works extremely well.
Richard Hagopian, the lynchpin of the film, decided a few years ago that he wanted to jump off a building in Brooklyn, so he approached filmmaker Rene Gabri and extended an offer to film the suicide. Gabri took the invitation. No reason is given as to why Richard wants to die, but we do eventually learn quite a bit about him … especially when he tags along to Europe with Gabri and his girlfriend after coming to the conclusion that New York is not the right place to die.
Richard is likable, annoying, smart, funny and a bit neurotic. There are parts of him that audiences will relate to, and parts they will loathe. By the end of the film, however, you kind of grow to hate the guy. After all, he has almost ruined the Gabri’s life in his quest for the perfect location to off himself.
Positive points aside, one of the film’s biggest flaws is its running time. A half hour or more could’ve been shaved off without compromising the film. Instead of doing that, however, we get scene after scene of Richard finding the perfect place to commit suicide only to back out of it at the last minute. (“I want to die, but I don’t want to die here. I’m going to do it, but not today. This isnÕt high enough. ThereÕs too much history here.” And so it goes.) The foreign locales were nice to look at, but this film wasn’t meant to be a travelogue.
If the idea behind the movie’s length was to drum up anger at Richard, it worked. It also fueled some dislike for the filmmaker, and as he describes how the movie changed his life (most often negatively) there is little sympathy to be had. In fact, most viewers will wish both of these men had jumped in Rome … saving us the trouble of sitting through two plus hours of torture.