Monday, June 29, 2009

Sarah Palindromes

Directed by Todd Solondz

"I know you're not a pedophile....pedophiles love children..."
A line that at once resounds everything that is uncomfortable about Todd Solondze and his work. Palindromes is a film whose bleakness is only matched by it's moments of uncomfortable hilarity. If you thought David Letterman's Bristol Palin joke was horrifying, than don't even attempt to watch "Palindromes", as it will likely cause you Scanners-like cerebral hemorrhage. Solondz also expands his material a bit, this time out, by opting to show the same character through six different actresses (before "I'm Not There", and in the vein of "That Obscure Object of Desire"), with each actress representing a portion of our tragic heroins emotional geography.
The film begins with the funeral of an earlier Solondz character, Dawn, from his first film "Welcome To The Doll House", having killed herself, a funeral attended by the young and impressionable heron of this film Aviva.
Abortion is the central focus of the film, with neither side of the issue "winning" any argument, instead we are shown a girl named Aviva(her names a palindrome), who wants only to have babies to love and love her forever and ever.
From this monstrously co-dependent springboard we get a tour through religious extremism and Laissez-faire middle class liberalism, at they're best and worst, and abortion in all of it's contradiction and paradox.Solondz by this film has defined himself as a pessimist, a definition which like a true pessimist he believes is unavoidable as palindromes themselves, the same both forward or backward, forever.
Understandably, there are those who find Solondz too cynical; empty jaded misery mongering which gives us nothing of the beautiful and sublime we would expect from "true" works of art, which has always seemed to me a denial induced distortion of the medium and message.

Because we don't like what is being said, we pay no attention to the skill with which it is being communicated, or the intricacies of it's phrasings.
Solondz films are brutal, disturbing, and hilarious all at once, and it's a difficult mix, handling despair and comedy, and there simply Inst anyone who does it better Todd Solondz.
Anyone can make an inappropriate comedy about abortion, just as anyone can make a disturbingly realistic look the subject, but few can dance back and forth across the boarders without loosing their footing like Palindromes.
A more meaningful, if less enjoyable film than Happiness, but easily one of Solondz and the decades best.

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