In Todd Solondz's latest trip into the uncharted suburbia of America, 13-year-old Aviva - played by eight different actresses - is determined to get herself pregnant.
DIRECTOR Todd Solondz Commentators have a tendency to swiftly label Todd Solondz as “dark” or “misanthropic”, which makes it easier for them to dismiss his work when it causes them too much discomfort. Far from being wilfully difficult, however, he’s the most astute observer of American suburbia working today. Whereas other filmmakers sugar-coat their social comment with bogus helpings of uplifting human spirit, Solondz pulls no punches: people are messed up. And that’s life. Somewhat perversely, Palindromes is the director’s sweetest serving yet. Unlike the teen ache of Welcome To The Dollhouse or the bleak hilarity of Happiness and Storytelling, this story of 13-year-old Aviva’s determination to get herself pregnant is shot like a lullaby; an innocent’s quest for happiness in a deformed landscape. Doesn’t sound quite like a fairytale? Well, it’s complex, to say the least. Solondz has eight different actresses portray Aviva – from under-age girls to an overweight black woman; because we’re all the same on the inside, ha – and the film follows the elliptical structure implied by its title. There’s pointed fatalism and indictments of middle-class superiority, but Solondz, ever the outsider, never loses affection for his misfits or stoops to passing judgment on their motivations. Love or hate him; he’s vital.