Life During Wartime relies on uncomfortable black humor and moments of sincere drama to involve viewers. But everything is encased in artifice and the movie becomes a chore to take in.
| Original Score: 2/4
I can't stand the moral universe that we're dealing with here.
Not one moment avoids complete condescension and arrogance. The fact that there isn't a character in every scene throwing feces at the other characters, acting as a Solondz surrogate, seems like a rather dishonest omission.
Just like any family reunion: forced, painful and underwhelming.
| Original Score: 2/5
This quasi-sequel revisits that witches' brew of self-loathing, cum shots, suicide and pedophilia, and adds race relations, 9/11, Zionism, and the auteur's latest craze: wacky stunt-casting.
As with Palindromes, Life During Wartime revolves around a casting gimmick, with its predecessor's roles now embodied by all new performers.
| Original Score: 1.5/4
Solondz seems to grasp for significance while hating his creations.
Believe me, it's odd to watch a film of perverts, pedophiles, and sniffly melodrama (Sirk with a Polanski spank) and respond with a been there, done that shrug.
| Original Score: C
Todd Solandz is back once again to beat his convoluted dead-horse themes of race relations and schmaltzy pedophilia.
| Original Score: C-
Possibly a brave and interesting triumph for its director, but definitely a cold-eyed heartless bore for his audience.
| Original Score: 2/5
There's repetitious talk about forgiving and forgetting, and debate over which is preferable, but Solondz doesn't seem particularly interested in either.
Happiness didn't really need a follow-up; it said everything it needed to say and had quite the indelible, ahem, climax.
| Original Score: C+
The question is: Who wants to watch these people?
The daring director is still a fascinating craftsman, but now we don't feel welcome in his dollhouse.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
A typically horny-thorny Solondzian dramedy...Solondz's is a universe of limitless disappointment. [Blu-ray]
I'd never have predicted something this mediocre.
Todd Solondz's "Life During Wartime" is full of characters who make the same mistakes over and over again, unable to change their bad habits. He must know just how they feel.
In retrospect, Todd Solondz probably should have hung it up after Happiness.
Solondz's approach renders the film so dramatically inert that even though he's assembled a classy cast, they seem weirdly uncomfortable delivering his overtly mannered dialogue.
You can't get enough Happiness -- or so Todd Solondz must have thought when he spun off this sour sequel to his 1998 misanthropic ode to suburban perversion.
Wouldn't the world be wonderful if Inception were the film left to straggle through a two-week run in the art houses, and Life During Wartime got to be the blockbuster?