Aviva is thirteen, awkward and sensitive. Her mother Joyce is warm and loving, as is her father, Steve, a regular guy who does have a fierce temper from time to time. The film revolves around her family, friends and neighbors.
Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Stephen Adly Guirgis
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Separated from her incarcerated husband Bill (Hinds), Trish (Janney) is about to be married again. Bill is a pedophile, so Trish couldn't be more excited to have Harvey (Lerner), a "normal" father figure for her two sons. But when Bill is released from prison and the boys finally meet their future stepdad, the family is forced to decide whether to forgive or to forget. Trish's sister, the virginal, angelic Joy (Henderson), is also haunted by ghosts of lovers past. On leave from her degenerate husband, Allen (Williams), and her job at a New Jersey correctional facility, Joy unwittingly leaves behind a trail of shame and exposed secrets wherever she goes. In one of the film's most stylized sequences, the image of Joy walking the dark streets of Miami in her nightgown maintains her innocence against a backdrop of self-affliction and desire. Written by
Forgive and forget the weaker parts of a pretty interesting film
Not being acquainted with Todd Solondz before now, I found myself comparing "Life During Wartime" at an advance screening tonight to the Cohen brothers, "A Serious Man"-- a film I really enjoyed. It felt like it was hitting a lot of the same notes at the front end of the film, with its humour and the Jewish family life. This was considerably darker--don't worry, I noticed.
I found the Ciaran Hinds story and acting strong, though it made me wary I was being set up to think, "Oh, not such a bad guy, after all." I was relieved this never went further than to suggest, "only human, after all." I'd be interested to hear what some of my social worker friends think of how the film treats this family's big secret, especially in light of the forgiveness theme.
Joy's thread in this film, quirky and fun as it was at times, felt the weakest. There was something about the character's little girl voice and the vacillation and mood swings that started to annoy and distract me, after a time. Maybe the director was just playing with another cliché, there, about long-suffering women, but, well, see for yourself.
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