Life During Wartime (at the 47th New York Film Festival)
Todd Solandz is back yet another time to beat his convoluted dead horse themes of schmaltzy pedophilia. A bookend to his 1998 feel-bad effort "Happiness," "Life During Wartime" repeatedly reminds us that indeed America is still enduring two wars that it would rather forget, or at least redirect the billions being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan on economic problems in the U. S. of A. The title is misleading because war is incidental to a gumball rally of "pervs," their victims, and not-so-innocent bystanders. Ciaran Hinds takes over the Bill Mablewood role that Dylan Baker played in "Happiness." Bill is on the brink of being released from prison as his ex-wife Trish (Allison Janney) is getting on her long belated romantic footing with a new guy, Harvey (Michael Lerner). Trish's youngest son Timmy (Dylan Riley Snyder) looks forward to his bar mitzvah, and is devastated to learn that the father he had been told was dead, is in fact a convicted pedophile. An uncomfortable reunion between Bill and Timmy's college-aged brother Billy (Chris Marquette) that Bill used to molest, is enough to curdle milk in your stomach. Solandz has worn out his welcome as an enfant terrible. He's too old for that pose. Todd Solandz specializes in capturing creepy scenarios between adults and children. A fumbled attempt at creating a thematic statement about forgetting but not forgiving, backfires on a film that elicits that very reaction from its audience.
Not Rated. 98 mins. (D) (One Star)
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