Sunday, October 11, 2009
Life During Wartime
The latest feature from writer/director Todd Solendz is a sequel of sorts to his earlier film, "Happiness". It is a series of vignettes revolving around the dysfunctional family we first met in that amazing film. The difference here is that all the characters are played by an entirely different set of actors.
Having thoroughly enjoyed "Happiness", it's a bit disorienting at first to reconnect to the characters when they are played by different people. I don't think the film will appeal to anyone without seeing the previous work. It doesn't really stand on it's own as it's major theme is forgiveness and without seeing "Happiness", you just won't get it.
Many of the new actors are terrific. Allison Janney, Michael Lerner, Paul Reubens, Ally Sheedy and Michael Kenneth Williams make the characters their own, which for some of them is a very hard thing to do considering who played their parts in "Happiness". Conversely, Shirley Henderson and Ciaran Hinds (while good actors in their own right) do not do justice to their characters and could not make me forget the originals.
The plot line is typical of Mr. Solendz. Multiple story lines overlap with many uncomfortable situations. You find yourself laughing even as Mr.Solendz makes you squirm uneasily as the observer of these emotional distraught people, all looking for forgiveness in one way or another.