'Running With Scissors' proves to be a unique film masterpiece

Based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Augusten Burroughs, Running With Scissors is essentially a story about a boy (Joseph Cross) trying to find his voice and himself under quite unique circumstances. 

Burroughs’ Anne Sexton obsessed mother Dierdre Burroughs (played brilliantly by Annette Benning), is an aspiring poet who never quite makes it in her field. When Dierdre’s character brings her eccentric psychiatrist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), into the picture, Augusten’s life is taken to a whole new level of insanity.

Within the painful and often hilarious world of Valium-popping and electro-shock therapy, young Augusten does his best to adapt and grow in a world with no rules. When he is left by his unstable mother with Dr. Finch and his offbeat family, Augusten develops a sexual relationship with Dr. Finch’s adopted, but long since disowned, son Neil Bookman (the hardly recognizable Joseph Feinnes). What ensues is one dysfunctional disaster after another, seen through surprisingly non-judgmental eyes.

Throw in charming performances by Jill Clayburgh (Agnes, the last semi-sane Finch), Gwyneth Paltrow (Hope, the Finch with the least amount of), and Alec Baldwin (the abandoned alcoholic father of Augusten), and you’ve got an all-star cast in a story that has never been told quite like this before. 

One of the highlights of this truly original film is when Augusten and his new semi-sister Natalie (played by the adorable Evan Rachel Wood) plow through the ceiling until the kitchen is newly decorated with a huge hole and pieces of plaster all over the table and floor. The true dysfunction is revealed when Dr. Finch enters the ravaged scene and expresses how the hole “gives the kitchen a much needed sense of humor.” Augusten’s hilarious response to his action was, “I need high ceilings.”

At first glance, this is a film about a homosexual boy growing up under unique and bizarre circumstances, but upon further observation it becomes something else, something much more powerful. This is a film about each and every one of us, and how we all must learn to find our own voices using the cards we’ve been dealt in this life.

Sometimes we’re given a lot to work with, sometimes not, but the message at the heart of this film is this: No matter our circumstances, there is beauty within each and every one of us, and happiness comes from what we possess inside rather than what goes on around us.

Augusten finally escapes from the world that held him captive his entire life. He flees to New York and becomes the writer his mother tried so hard to prevent him from becoming. His first of many novels is entitled Running With Scissors. Truly uplifting and inspirational, this is a must see for all humans, gay and otherwise.

Stop in Outloud! Books and Gifts located at 1703 Church St. in Nashville to either rent or buy this instant classic.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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