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.
A fable of innocence: thirteen-year-old Aviva Victor wants to be a 'mom'. She does all she can to make this happen, and comes very close to succeeding, but in the end her plan is thwarted by her sensible parents. So she runs away, still determined to get pregnant one way or another, but instead finds herself lost in another world, a less sensible one, perhaps, but one pregnant itself with all sorts of strange possibility. She takes a road trip from the suburbs of New Jersey, through Ohio to the plains of Kansas and back. Like so many trips, this one is round-trip, and it's hard to say in the end if she can ever be quite the same again, or if she can ever be anything but the same again.Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Todd Solondz spent his entire life's saving on making the movie because no studios would back it. See more »
Aviva is cradling a baby doll in her hands, then her mother comes in and they talk, and Aviva puts the doll down on the bed. During the conversation the doll's clothes change and the doll's position also changes a few times during the scene. See more »
People always end up the way they started out. No one ever changes. They think they do, but they don't. If you're the depressed type now, that's the way you'll always be. If you're the mindless, happy type, that's the way you'll be when you grow up. You might lose some weight, your face might clear up, get a body tan, a breast enlargement, a sex change - makes no difference. Essentially... from in front, or from behind... whether you're thirteen or fifty, you'll always be the same.
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I've seen a lot of strange films in my life, but this has to be right up there. Compared to this, "Happiness" was a crowd-pleasing knockabout comedy. I have to say that I found "Palindromes" hard going, even boring at times, although there was definitely a slow burn quality and by the end I was pretty much drawn in.
The film plays rather like a cross between Luis Bunuel and a live action "South Park". The multiple-actress technique pioneered in "That Obscure Object of Desire", deadpan style and flat picture quality on the one hand, taboo-breaking humour, song 'n' dance and perverse exploration of moral issues on the other.
I wonder what a conservative audience would make of this film. My guess is that it's aimed squarely at a liberal audience, but it absolutely refuses to pander to liberal prejudice, instead laying into the "pro-choice" position in a manner which can only be described as destruction testing. I get the feeling that Solondz is challenging his own opinions on the issue, as much as ours. Pro-lifers might see the storyline as vindicating their beliefs, but I dare say would be so horrified by other aspects of the film that they wouldn't make it to the end.
This is probably Solondz' bleakest movie to date, despite moments of (very dark) humour. Scientific rationalism is weighed against religious fundamentalism and both are found utterly wanting.
Incidentally there is no rape in this film, despite comments elsewhere, although there are certainly very disturbing scenes.
A brave movie, overall. I'm sure Solondz could take the David Lynch/John Waters route towards the (relative) mainstream with considerable success, but "Palindromes" sees him driving determinedly in the opposite direction, in every respect.
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