New York Times - 10/20/2006
"Ms. Bening's precise, pitiless tracing of her character's decline from feisty defiance to pathetic, over-medicated self-delusion gives the film an emotional weight..."
Entertainment Weekly - 10/27/2006
"The experience is unusual -- zany, even....Bening is elegantly unvain in her ferocious performance..."
Box Office - 12/01/2006
"Murphy's direction is impeccable, and the performances, particularly Bening's are uniformly excellent."
Total Film - 03/01/2007 3 stars out of 5 -- "Bening excels as the movie's driving force, and as you watch her character go from doting to deranged you can see why there's Oscar buzz for her nuanced performance."
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2007
"An intelligent adaptation of Augusten Burroughs' memoir....This is a film in which everything is heavily considered and nothing is accidental..."
Ultimate DVD - 08/01/2007 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A} wonderfully dark and eccentric coming-of-age tale."
Based on the bestselling memoir by Augusten Burroughs, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS features an all-star cast including Annette Bening, Brian Cox, Evan Rachel Wood, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Alec Baldwin. As a child, Augusten (Joseph Cross) completely adores his narcissistic mother Deirdre (Bening). Her biggest fan, he encourages her goal of becoming a published poet when no one else will. But while these dreams of grandeur seem innocent through Augusten's young eyes, they grow more delusional with time, slowly wearing on the family and contributing to its demise. While a teenage Augusten skips school and his father Norman (Alec Baldwin) uses alcohol to escape, Deirdre calls in an eccentric psychiatrist for an outside opinion. Dr. Finch's advice ends up being anything but professional, however, as his looseness with prescriptions and wacko theories end Deirdre's dysfunctional marriage and prompt her to abandon Augusten. Left to spend his teenage years as part of Dr. Finch's outlandish family, Augusten struggles to find himself while surrounded by a series of tormented and over-analyzed individuals.
Director Ryan Murphy relies heavily on music to express the emotions of his characters and to ground viewers in time, bringing the memoir to life with classic 1970s songs by Elton John, the Average White Band, and Nat King Cole. Seemingly modeled visually after Wes Anderson's THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, the film revolves around intricately over-the-top sets which aim to reflect the neuroses of its characters. In making most of the film as dramatic as possible, Murphy sometimes threatens to overshadow what are undeniably fine actors at work. The film's saving grace comes in its non-fiction source material, as viewers without that knowledge may find the characters too peculiar and the story too unbelievable for their own good.