Francisco Roman
Lisa Schwarzbaum
July 21, 2010 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Life During Wartime

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
Unrated
runtime
96 minutes
Limited Release Date
07/23/10
performer
Allison Janney, Paul Reubens, Ciaran Hinds, Charlotte Rampling, Ally Sheedy
director
Todd Solondz
author
Todd Solondz
genre
Comedy, Drama

We gave it a B+

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco: With a title from Talking Heads, Life During Wartime is obsessive filmmaker Todd Solondz’s creepy/ beautiful, engrossing/repellent follow-up to his 1998 dystopian family epic Happiness. In fact, the same dystopian family from Happiness is back, played by a new cast. And Solondz pokes at the clan’s tender wounds in a kind of where-are-they-now reverie. One update: Pedophile dad (Ciarán Hinds) is out of prison. Another: The drama has moved from New Jersey to Miami, captured in a color-saturated palette that magnifies the heartbreak. The hard things to accept — let alone forgive — about human behavior are still hard. In a staring contest with his audience, Solondz never blinks. He picks and picks at the themes that consume him, and he doesn’t care who stays and who leaves. Me, I’m rapt. (Available on cable via on demand) B+

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