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Life During Wartime (2009)
Another foray into Cinema of the Grotesque
If you are familiar with Todd Solondz' work, his latest film follows up on the fractured families we previously encountered in Welcome to the Dollhouse and Happiness, but with entirely re-cast characters, which is thematically related to his previous film, Palindromes. Actually, these films all take place within the same bleak universe. The film is set several years after the events of Happiness, although in Solondz' fractured universe, the timeline doesn't quite make sense if you think about it too hard. However, the characters' development is as beautiful as they themselves are grotesque.
Ciaran Hinds' portrayal of Bill Maplewood, the pedophile father originally played by Dylan Baker is superb, as is the rest of the cast. Of particular note is Paul Reubens as Jon Lovitz's ghost who appears to Joy Henderson (played by Shirley Henderson): casting Pee-Wee Herman as a not-so tortured soul (or possibly a manifestation of Joy's neurosis) is an absolute stroke of genius on the director's part. Another standout is the always amazing Allison Janney, it is completely believable that the oh so perky Cynthia Stevenson would turn into this love-starved small-minded medicated woman after the events of "Happiness." This is not an easy, date movie. This director's films never are.
This is TERRIFIC!!
I see by other reviews that this is one of those love-it or hate-it kinda shows & I'm definitely in the LOVE IT camp! Jada Pinkett-Smith is at the top of her form & so is the rest of the cast. I know some reviewers on this site don't seem to like the fact that the show centers around its title character, but PLEASE. I don't find Mrs. Smith's portrayal anything short of a FLAWLESS portrayal of a flawed person. She doesn't always have the answers, either. Sometimes her methods don't work the way she wants them to & she recognizes it. Other characters are given plenty of screen time as well as plot lines and this show is a breath of fresh air for the hospital drama genre! Keep it coming TNT, this is your best original program EVER!!