2010 / Director. Todd Solondz.
I love Todd Solondz. He's an auteur and a provocative filmmaker. He has a remarkable and unique ability to explore society's darkest taboos and present them humorously. That's not to say he treats these issues lightly... to the contrary. Possibly his best film (certainly my favourite) is HAPPINESS. Made in 1998, the film delves deeply into some seriously disturbing matters... most significantly, pedophilia. The way he presented the issue and had his characters interacting was not only confronting but also enlightening. Cut to 12 years later and he made LIFE DURING WARTIME, a sequel which revisits all of the HAPPINESS characters to see where they are in life. I think it's a terrible film. It's easily Solondz's worst movie and without a doubt a huge misjudgement on his behalf. When the film was first revealed I was hesitant about seeing it. I didn't want to see these characters again because they were so perfectly captured already, but my faith in Solondz was strong enough to convince me to persevere. Sadly the film fails. In true Solondz fashion none of the characters are played by the same actors and he has cast the film with completely opposite types of personalities. This was about the only genius quality to the film. Having new faces recalling past events gives the film new life and offers an immediate challenge to the viewer. The performances are excellent but everything else is garbage. The script is elementary, contrived and forced. There are no subtleties to the subjects and the word pedophilia gets bandied around like a running gag. I take particular exception to the character of Alan who was originally played by Jon Lovitz. He is now played by Paul Reubens, who is actually AMAZING in the role, but the actual character traits are conflicting and insulting to the original personality. I felt betrayed by what he has become and it didn't seem fitting. Other characters are where you might expect them to be in life and none of them offer anything new or insightful. It's all rather boring really. In interviews promoting the film Solondz often remarked that he wanted LIFE DURING WARTIME to be a stand-alone film and not to be compared with HAPPINESS... ha. what a pretentious and wanky thing to say. If he did't want comparisons then he shouldnt have written a continuing storyline featuring a dozen of the same characters and situations from another film. This IS a sequel and it's not a very good one.