By Rob Blackwelder
The title character of this ironically life-affirming, melancholy comedy is a downtrodden, amusingly brusque young Scotsman with a recurring death wish, a proven ineptitude for suicide and a talent for getting kicked out of support groups. Played with an abrasive charm by Jamie Sives, he finds an unexpected yearning for life when he's drawn to a vulnerable, slightly manic young mother (the marvelous Shirley Henderson) -- who soon marries Wilbur's warm, happy, obliging older brother and sometimes-caretaker (Adrian Rawlins).
The lithe hand of director Lone Scherfig ("Italian For Beginners") deftly and tenderly navigates "Wilbur" along a fine line between dark comedy and genuine gloom as misfortune and joy mix in the lives of her characters. Her simple, offbeat humanity aids in overlooking a few minor plot quandaries too. But the key to the film is Sives' performance that balances good humor and true empathy with Wilbur's prickly personality and the selfishness of his suicide attempts, which do become less frequent as his romantic yearnings tempt fate.
*** out of ****