Running With Scissors

Rated: R

         This is another one of those obscure films I found at the local library. Upon reading the summary on the back of the case and seeing the rather extensive list of big names in it I thought it’d be worth a try. In fact, with so many familiar faces cast in this one, it seemed a bit odd to me that I’d never heard of it. But then, that seems to be quite common these days.

                Running with Scissors is the true story of Augusten Burroughs’ adolescence and is based on his memoir of the same name. Its a story that is so bizarre its almost hard to believe its true at all. Augusten grew up in late ‘70’s Massachusetts with an alcoholic father who eventually disappears and a usually on drugs and mentally unstable wannabe poet mother. As his mother, played by Annette Bening, falls further and further into psychosis, she sends young Augusten to live with her psychiatrist, Dr. Finch and his family. The Finch’s house is in as much disarray as the people who live there and with no rules or boundaries to speak of Augusten has a truly hard time surviving. His only true solace is found in the 2 Finch daughters, Natalie and Hope. His mother pops into and out of his life on occasion, but any hope he found in her is lost as her psychosis grows over the years.

                The main character Augusten is played by young up and comer Joseph Cross. While many of you have probably never heard of this young man, he’s definitely one to keep an eye on. Running with Scissors was his break out of TV role, and it was well deserved. Cross very convincingly puts Augusten’s feelings of turmoil and confusion on display without directly speaking of them, or making them overly obvious. He makes the role seem effortless and natural, which is a movie necessity, especially when portraying a true story.

                As I mentioned earlier, Augusten’s mother Deidre is played by Annette Bening. At first I thought this role to be a bit out of her comfort zone, but upon review of her IMDB page I realized it really wasn’t. Ms. Bening often plays troubled souls in the movies she’s in. For example: the mother in American Beauty, Virginia in Bugsy and Nic in The Kids Are All Right. These characters aren’t all troubled in the same ways, but they’ve all got problems aplenty!

                Running with Scissors not only depicts turmoil, but succeeds in throwing the watcher into a bit of turmoil as well. There are moments that will make you laugh, some that will break your heart and some that will make you cringe. Its a 2 hour long roller coaster ride that proves that out of the dung pile can grow a rose.

Running with Scissors is rated R. It was directed by Ryan Murphy and stars Joseph Cross, Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood and Gwenyth Paltrow. Its available now on Blu Ray, DVD and digital download.