By Owen Gleiberman
Updated March 10, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

There is by now a familiar tradition of suicide comedy, from ”Harold and Maude” to every movie in which someone botches the job of hanging himself into a slapstick fiasco. (The joke, of course, is that the ineptitude expresses the secret desire not to die.) So when Wilbur (Jamie Sives), a handsome young Scottish bloke, tries out every method of self-destruction he can (pills, oven, drowning, the noose), only to end up failing each time, it’s no surprise, really, that he still comes off as the most well-adjusted person on screen. At this point, jokey movie suicide is little more than a very quaint form of narcissism.

Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself is the first English-language feature directed by Denmark’s Lone Scherfig, whose ”Italian for Beginners” served up a handful of quirky wallflowers in search of love. As cloyingly shy as everyone in that movie was, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself makes them all look like horndog contestants in a bikini-island reality show. The new movie is set in Glasgow, and the mixture of drizzly Scottish bleakness and Scherfig’s meandering Danish moodiness is too chicly depressive — and, for the most part, too dull — to bear. Wilbur moves in with his brother, Harbour (Adrian Rawlins), who lives above the shabby used-book store he inherited from their father. Harbour is a mild sort with morbid troubles of his own, and though Alice (Shirley Henderson), an attractive single mom, theoretically turns the movie into a love triangle, she?s so sodden herself that the triangle all but wilts at the corners.