Green Room Orlando :: Film and Television in Central Florida     jump to ->   New York - Miami - Tampa Bay
Logo/Front Page Link  
Logo/Front Page
<< Back

Palindromes   (released 4/1/2005)
By Neil Norman

Abortion is a very strong word. When we hear the word, we are often galvanized to fight for what we believe is right. Todd Solondz chooses this emotional subject as the focus of his new film Palindromes. No matter what side of the fence you stand on in this issue, you should go and see Palindromes. With films such as Welcome to the Dollhouse, Happiness, and Storytelling, Solondz has had the courage to depict the darker side of the human condition in the making of his artistic statement. He uses issues that many people shove into the closet, never to see the light of day again, dragging them out into the sunlight and picking through them like an archaeologist searching a dig sight for forgotten skeletons. I applaud his courage in putting things on film that many might consider taboo or over the line. If we bottle up and hide away all the bad things in our lives, then how are we ever going to confront and overcome them?

Palindromes starts with footage from a funeral. The spoken Hebrew and dirge-like music effectively set the tone. We learn that the funeral we are at is Dawn Wiener's. Solondz apparently wants to distance the viewer from drawing too many comparisons to the protagonist of his first film. Solondz tells the story through inter-related vignettes, much like Storytelling. In the first one, we meet the lead character of the film, Aviva. Aviva is originally portrayed by a cute little African-American girl and she wants to "have lotsa little babies, so I will always have someone to love." When we meet Aviva's mom Joyce, played by Ellen Barkin, we wonder if Aviva is adopted, because her mom is white. But the pictures on the wall concur with the image of Aviva that the audience sees. It isn't until the next segment that we are made aware of Solondz's stylistic technique.

In the second segment, entitled Judah, we meet the second incarnation of Aviva. She is a frumpy, slightly overweight, white thirteen year old with a meek demeanor. In a very creative technique, Solondz uses a number of female actors (and even one male) in portraying his lead character. I think Aviva's appearance is determined by the sense of self image that she currently has in each segment. It is a very effective technique (if somewhat confusing until you figure it out) at portraying the ups and downs of a young girls mental state when confronted with the ordeal of growing up.

Aviva ends up getting pregnant by her cousin Judah, and she's determined to have the baby. Mom isn't having it. What if... you end up on food stamps?" she rationalizes, while comforting Aviva with "It's not a baby, it's like it's just a tumor." Aviva has the abortion, even though she really doesn't want it, and ends up running away from home. She then goes on a cross country adventure and is eventually rescued by a fundamentalist Christian family, who have adopted a child with every disability there is, it seems. Events continue to progress and Aviva ends up involved in a climactic moment with a over-aged friend of the Christian troop.

Solondz has definitely taken his recognizable style one step further. Palindromes contains stylistic techniques explored in his earlier films that smartly add to the meaning of the film as a whole. With its subject matter, the film is sure to be controversial with some. But in my view, it is an excellent essay on teenage angst and the sticky situation of the abortion issue.

Neil Norman is a freelance writer and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Neil also works on independent film productions.

Palindromes plays Wednesday, April 13, 2005 at 9:45pm at Regal Winter Park Village.

  Advertising    Legal     Site Index  
© 2021 Green Room Orlando. Founded in 1998.