Sunday, August 29, 2010

Life During Wartime - Movie Review

Life During Wartime (NR) 98 minutes C+
Try to forgive, forget and not relive what makes you upset

Starring Allison Janney, Ally Sheedy, Paul Reubens, Michael Kenneth Williams, Charlotte Rampling and Shirley Henderson.

As I was watching this film I overheard the lady sitting directly across the aisle whisper to her friend, "this movie is so morbid". That's the nature of unconventional director Todd Solondz whose latest film, Life During Wartime examines the lives of dysfunctional and unhappy people as they struggle (and sometimes fail) to stay afloat in a post 9/11 society.

The film is a sequel to Solondz's 1998 film, Happiness, however, none of the actors from Happiness are in Life During Wartime. Characters that were Caucasian in Happiness are African American in Life During Wartime. Characters that were fat in the previous film are skinny in this one, the young are old and the old are young... catch my drift? Solondz reinvented old characters and made them new by changing their ethnicity, body, age, etc...

Life During Wartime is a hard film to watch. It feels disconnected and the acting is hit or miss. I loved the "Joy" character played by Shirley Henderson, Ally Sheedy and Charlotte Rampling can do no wrong and Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Herman) in a dramatic role- excellent! But I cringed when Michael Kenneth Williams (from HBO's The Wire) and 13 year-old Dylan Snyder were on screen, I didn't find their characters convincing at all.

Solondz films aren't always great, are rarely mainstream, yet they're always intriguing. That's why he's worth watching.

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