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Palindromes (2004)

Cast: Ellen Barkin, Stephen Adly-Guirgis, Stephen Adly-Guirgis, more...
Director: Todd Solondz, Todd Solondz
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Fox Lorber
Genre: Drama, Independent, Coming of Age , Experimental/Avant-Garde
Running Time: 100 min.
Languages: English
    see additional details...

Palindromes opens with the dedication, "In loving memory of Dawn Wiener," a reference to the lead character in writer/director Todd Solondz' early feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Aviva has just attended Dawn's funeral. Dismayed by her older cousin's untimely death, Aviva asks her mother (Ellen Barkin) for assurance that she won't grow up to be like Dawn. Aviva only dreams of one thing -- having babies. Lots and lots of babies. As a teen, while Aviva has no interest in sex, she eagerly loses her virginity to Judah (Robert Agri), the son of a family friend in hopes of getting pregnant. She does, but her mother insists that she have an abortion. Worse yet, due to a complication during the procedure, the doctor is forced to perform a hysterectomy. Unaware of her medical condition, Aviva runs away from home and is picked up by a truck driver (Stephen Adly Guirgis) who has his way with her and then abandons her at a roadside motel. She wanders in the wilderness until she meets up with Jiminy (Tyler Maynard), a friendly boy who lives with the "Sunshine Family," a group of disabled kids cared for by the cheerful Mama Sunshine (Debra Monk). The kids are also a Christian singing group. Aviva is happy until she learns that Mama Sunshine and her husband are virulently anti-abortion and that they are planning to murder a doctor. Solondz cast eight different actors in the lead role, each of whom play Aviva at different points in the story. Matthew Faber reprises the role of Mark Wiener from Welcome to the Dollhouse. Palindromes was shot at Bard College in upstate New York, using many film students as crew. It was selected by the Film Society of Lincoln Center for inclusion in the 2004 New York Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

Read GreenCine's exclusive interview with Todd Solondz, the master of misery, misanthropy and discomfort. GreenCine's Craig Phillips caught up with the man critic David Thomson called "an exemplary figure in a group of 'nasty' filmmakers," to talk about the pains of production, all the Avivas in Palindromes, whether or not to laugh, and, yes, the "A" word. Full Article >>

GreenCine Member Reviews

Challenging, but Worth the Time by talltale September 14, 2005 - 2:09 PM PDT
8 out of 9 members found this review helpful
Todd Solondz takes another step forward with the original and disquieting PALINDROMES, which follows the journey of a 12-year-old girl (in under a year, if I'm not mistaken) into areas where no child should have to venture. The trip is made easier (for us, if not for her) by the distancing fact that she is played by a variety actresses of differing ages and colors, including another (small but) superlative performance by Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Themes include the right to life, death, sex and Jesus--incendiary, sure enough, but as Solondz handles them, the viewer is kept off-balance and unsure: not quite the norm for subjects such as these. This gives his film more heft & surprise and makes it less easy to dismiss out of hand (as one perhaps could manage with something such as "Citizen Ruth"). Here, the attitude is neither satiric nor camp nor syrupy nor... well, pick your typical tone: Solondz won't go there. Highly recommended for moviegoers not frightened by the thought of an interesting (perhaps not completely worked-through) challenge.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.42)
139 Votes
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