A Painful “Life During Wartime” (Not Caused By War).

I don’t mind being uncomfortable during a film. In fact, some of my favorite directors (Almodovar in particular) do a fantastic job of tackling uncomfortable issues in a tasteful way. The direct opposite can be said of Todd Solondz in Life During War Time. With out-dated, out-played, and unfunny jokes, the film follows the lives of a family in suburban Florida who for the majority, are all annoyingly out-of-touch about very serious and traumatic experiences; molestation, pedophilia, suicide. The impressive set of actors play an unfortunate bratty and predictable set of characters leading the story to have very little focus.  The only character to really question his moral universe is Timmy, who saves the film of its empty core. At one point, watching this film felt tedious and difficult–did I really just pay $13.00 dollars to see this?  The film does have moments of real depth when it addresses the topic of  ‘forgiving and forgetting.’  Unfortunately, neither aspect is fully explored and Solondz seems uninterested in presenting a real question/answer to the issue.

But — the Village Voice loved it & A.O. Scott wrote a favorable review so…maybe you should Netflix it? (not to be sent home! Wait till it comes out on Instant).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marshall-fine/huffpost-review-ilife-dur_b_656875.html (To defend my case)


One comment

  1. maggie · July 29, 2010

    Ah, I want so badly to write a decent counter-argument but I am too sunburnt and tired. I think you’ve made some valuable points, and there were times when I too asked myself how I, a broke single mother to a dachshund, just spent $13 at a movie theater with poor air conditioning and on a movie centered around child molestation. Yet, I believe Solondz is quite aware of what he’s doing and who he’s offending. And his ability to capture this Jewish Floridian family–albeit the characters overplayed and outdated–and discuss issues of suicide, molestation and dysfunctional families, all with a comedic tone and with quite beautiful cinematography, is admirable. I think if we read an interview with Solondz, we’d most likely understand what it really is that he set out to do with Life During Wartime. Perhaps almost as important is to have seen the precursor Happiness. Like I said to you after the movie, Eileen, just as Welcome to the Dollhouse has remained a film that both haunts and mesmerizes me to the point where I have watched it every year or two since 1995, Life During Wartime left me wanting to know and talk more. If nothing else, I think we can both agree that Solondz does a good job of simply triggering conversation around topics that otherwise remain untouched, especially by our indie movie-loving, twenty-something selves. I am a faithful fan of Solondz, and perhaps it’s that notion alone that makes me defensive of this new film, yet I have never seen one of his films and immediately liked it, or even felt good about it, but I have always been captivated and gone back for more.

    Love you!


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