Life During Wartime

Life During Wartime

Directed By: Todd Solondz


It seems, well, creepy that Todd Solondz has crafted an accessible, almost mainstream film. Sure, the familiar themes of his latest works still abound – paedophilia, and other forms of dysfunctional relationships are once again covered – but this film seems to have a lightness that Happiness and especially Palindromes lacked. This is probably as close as he’s going to get to a multiplex-ready film any time soon.

Tying disparate stories together, mostly told through casual conversation, the film avoids feeling episodic. Through the witty dialogue we get some genuinely amusing insights into the characters, from a daughter’s Karaoke recital to the desperately depressingly sister named “Joy” (played with mousey perfection by Shirley Henderson). And kudos to Paul Reubens for his scene stealing phantasmagoric creepiness.

This is a talky piece, sure, and scenes mirror almost exactly those found in Happiness, making this a kindred film, if not a direct sequel. As such, it’s not nearly as hard hitting as the previous film, and as such isn’t nearly as successful. Still, it’s a pleasure to watch, yet is perhaps too weird for a casual filmgoer, too slight for the hardcore fans of Solondz.

Grade: B+


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