Todd Solondz has become quite infamous for his unapologetic and unique films that involve controversial topics. In Happiness, he dared to give humanity and compasion to a pedophile, and the kicker is, he succeeded. You actually cared for him. With Storytelling he took a more laid back approach, and didn't really delve to deeply into any unqiue or controversial topics, which was somewhat disapointing. Now, with Palindromes, he has made his most interesting, thought provoking and, arguably, his bravest film yet, tackling the controversial topic of abortion in ways few would dare.
The film is about Aviva, a 13 year old girl who wants to have a baby. She ends up having sex with a young man who's a friend of the family, and gets pregnant. Her parents find out about this and are determined to force her to have an abortion. The mother has a talk with her, telling her the risks and disadvantages a young girl giving birth could face: "What if it's deformed, or mentally retarded? It's more likely that a young mother will give birth to a baby with birth defects" She says. In a stunning turn of events, the mother confesses that she herself had an abortion, and her reasons for doing so are truley pathetic : "If I had had this baby, you wouldn't have been able to have the luxuries that me and your father provide you, like the quarts of ice cream, the gap clothing, or the Nsync tickets". The mom talks Aviva into having an abortion.
One of the most touching and heartbreaking scenes in the movie is when Aviva is lying on the abortion table, right before the procedure, she has such sorrow in her eyes, the baby she already loves is about to be killed, she knows this, but is too young and naive to do anything about it, she already has a name picked out for it...Henrieta. After the abortion Aviva is upset and runs away, encountering numerous interesting and complex and morally challenging characters, that only Solondz would dare create. On her adventure, she adopts the name of Henrieta, which reminds us that both her and her aborted baby are both one in the same. They're both lost, neither of them got the chance that most normal children would, in a way, they're both dead.
One of the more memorable scenes is when Aviva encounters Mamma Sunshine who runs a home of, in a way, lost children. These are all children with disabilities, these are the children Aviva's mother was reffering to as reasons to have abortion. However, all these children truley seem happy to be alive, and they're enjoying life.
Todd Solondz's true genius lies in his ability to make us challenge our own beliefs. In Happiness he confronted the audience by giving us a human, compasionate pedophile who, rather then hating, you pity. In Palindromes, he challenges us by making us actually want Aviva to have her baby, despite it going against all reason and logic, and despite our social morals that many people share about child pregnancy and abortion.
The film also makes a statement about humanity. No matter what, we're always going to be the same, deep down. The character of Aviva is played by numerous people, ranging in age, race, even sex, but she's always the same character, deep down.
The compasion and love he has for his characters is glaringly obvious, and it's hard for the audience to also not feel something for his characters, despite their sometimes horrific flaws. Palindromes is no exception. All the characters are developed beautifully and it's hard not to feel compasion for all of them, Aviva especially, as the sad, lost soul who was forced to give up the only good thing in her life.
Todd Solondz is, IMO one of the most promising and interesting film makers in the world right now. His films are challenging, intriguing, thought provoking and touching, and he's not afraid to push the envelope and challenge us on a controversial topic. I can't wait for what he has in store next.
In short, Palindromes is a beautiful, thouching, thought provoking and heart breaking film about a sad little girl who has lost the only pure thing in her life, and with it, her own purity.
Ya Krunk'd Floo
I look forward to seeing 'Palindromes'...That final scene in 'Happiness' is genius.
I love Todd Solondz films, Welcome to the Doll House and Happiness, I
have yet to see Palindromes but will soon when I'm in the mood, for degradation and hatred
Didnt really like it , to me,it seemed empty and lacked the bite and drama of Solondz previous work, and I didnt connect with the characters. For me it lacked the humour of his previous work also. I enjoyed the fact that Dawn Weiner was featured though and I liked the scene when Aviva and that guy went on their mission, that was "fried gold", it was "Classic Solondz" and I would liked to have seen more of that. But I found the film a bit boring.
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