Montreal Film Journal


Welcome to the Dollhouse 83
[ review ]

Happiness 92
[ review ]

Storytelling 66
[ review ]

Palindromes 48
[ "Palindromes" opens by stating that it was made "In Loving Memory of Dawn Wiener", the miserable central character of "Welcome to the Dollhouse", Solondz' breakthrough film. We learn that after getting pregnant from a date rape, Wiener killed herself. This prompts her little cousin Aviva to swear she would never do that, because that would kill the baby and she looooves babies. She might be only 13, but she really wants a baby, a cute little baby she can love and cherish... Her parents are against the idea, of course, so Aviva ends up running away from home. It's quite a disturbing sight to see this naïve little girl in a midriff-baring shirt running around asking men to knock her up. It's sad, but in usual Solondz fashion, he finds laughs in the most inappropriate places, defusing the pathetic of the story with funny asides (Aviva joining a Christian teeny-bop band) and throwaway lines ("Want some Nerds?"). On the filmmaking side, Solondz doesn't reinvent anything. His movies tend to look indie-cheap, with not much in terms of visual style. Solondz shakes things up a little here by having a different actress playing Aviva in every scene, so she goes from small to fat, plain to pretty, young to old, African-American to lily-white and red-haired... I'm not sure what this means, but it's an interesting gimmick. "Palindromes" kinda loses its way halfway through, needlessly revisiting situations and characters, and Solondz sometimes goes too far, overstepping the line between irreverence and cruelty, but his cynical worldview does balance out Hollywood's excessive idealism. ]

Life During Wartime --
[ review ]