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Palindromes (2004)

tomatometer

46

Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 37
Fresh: 17 | Rotten: 20

Unique but cold.

audience

69

liked it
Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 8,826

My Rating

Movie Info

Palindromes opens with the dedication, "In loving memory of Dawn Wiener," a reference to the lead character in writer/director Todd Solondz' early feature, Welcome to the Dollhouse. Aviva has just attended Dawn's funeral. Dismayed by her older cousin's untimely death, Aviva asks her mother (Ellen Barkin) for assurance that she won't grow up to be like Dawn. Aviva only dreams of one thing -- having babies. Lots and lots of babies. As a teen, while Aviva has no interest in sex, she eagerly loses

Unrated,

Drama, Comedy, Special Interest

Todd Solondz

Sep 13, 2005

$0.5M

Wellspring - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (128) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (49) | Rotten (67) | DVD (8)

Subversive by reputation, Solondz is an acquired taste on his best day, and he's just all over the place with this one. Unpleasantly so.

June 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's oppressive atmosphere of flatly rendered, all-consuming determinism leaves it sparkless, pointless and ultimately not very funny.

May 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Toronto Star
Toronto Star
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In its own peculiar way, it is a more compassionate and useful religious document than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ.

May 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Let the discomfort commence.

May 7, 2005 Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News
Dallas Morning News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Palindromes" isn't a wise movie, or a particularly true movie, but it's an honest one and a singular experience.

May 6, 2005 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's pointed fatalism and indictments of middle-class superiority, but Solondz, ever the outsider, never loses affection for his misfits or stoops to passing judgment on their motivations. Love or hate him, he's vital.

November 7, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine Australasia
Empire Magazine Australasia

"Palindromes" is a sloppy and muddy film that uses the shock value of seeing adult men humping numerous underage girls as its recurring visual device inscrutably linked to an unclear abortion issue theme.

June 20, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

A bizarre but brilliant headscratcher!

July 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Denver Urban Spectrum
Denver Urban Spectrum

Certainly a unique vision for a filmmaker, this is not a flick for everyone. Stick with it, however, and you just may thoroughly enjoy what is at the heart an incredibly sweet tale.

June 21, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Scouts
Film Scouts

The director's latest trek into the lunatic void, of what can best be described as the cinematic version of clinical depression.

May 29, 2007 Full Review
Long Island Press

...captures the shifting identity of adolescence, where one day you feel like a glamorous adult, others like a scared child, others still like a grotesquely overweight misfit.

August 15, 2006 Full Review Source: LYTRules.com
LYTRules.com

potentially decent film buried under the thick layers of misanthropy

November 27, 2005 Full Review Source: Draxblog Movie Reviews

OK, I'll admit it: I've next to no idea what to make of Palindromes, and you know what? I doubt the filmmaker would have a problem with me owning up to it.

October 6, 2005 Full Review Source: DVDTalk.com
DVDTalk.com

Most demanding.

September 15, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

For all its pompous attempts at seriousness and emotional depth, Palindromes is actually a remarkably shallow affair.

September 10, 2005 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Aviva...in all her permutations, may as well be a bug under the director's microscope.

September 8, 2005 Full Review Source: All Movie Guide
All Movie Guide

[Director Todd] Solondz simply pukes all over the American landscape and all its inhabitants in a nihilistic cinematic chunder...

August 30, 2005 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Underdeveloped and uneven yet oddly watchable, the gimmicky Palindromes once again cements the conceit that nobody makes films quite like Todd Solondz.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Todd Solondz's latest provocation is Palindromes, yet another uncomfortable fable of suburban dysfunction, puberty, and statutory rape.

June 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Not Coming to a Theater Near You
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Solondz's masterstroke is to have the girl, Aviva, played by eight different actors of varying ages, sizes and races -- a move that should decimate the film's narrative coherence but instead ups its allegorical value immeasurably.

June 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Orlando Weekly
Orlando Weekly

...his most political film to date, yet any commentary Solondz tries to make becomes muddled amid all the depressing weirdness.

June 14, 2005 Full Review
Denton Record Chronicle (TX)

As long as we're trying Michael Jackson in a court of law, why can't we thrown in Todd Solondz as a co-defendent?

June 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Snobs | Comment (1)
Film Snobs

It's a film with a purpose that I admire a great deal.

June 1, 2005 Full Review Source: Zertinet Movies
Zertinet Movies

[If Solondz isn't] having fun relating Aviva's determinedly depressive misadventures then what has he invited us into the theater for?

May 28, 2005 Full Review Source: Blogcritics.org
Blogcritics.org

Audience Reviews for Palindromes

"Palindromes" is intermittently engaging but overall does not have much of a point. The plot focuses on a girl who's about 13 and wants to have a baby. Because her parents will not allow her to pursue this dream, she runs away, hoping to get impregnated someday. Along the way, she meets Christian anti-abortion activists and lives with them for a while. This sequence is by far the best in the film. She also attempts to have an affair with a man, which is quite creepy to watch. Writer/director Todd Solondz has explored pedophilia (and the opposition to it) in several of his films. I'm not exactly sure why he finds it so interesting.

Abortion is another big theme. The main character is forced by her parents to get an abortion early in the film, and she later becomes stridently (even maniacally) pro-life. Again, I was not seeing what drove Solondz to include this hot-button social issue in his screenplay.

The central gimmick in the production is that five or six different actresses play the girl, including two instances where adults play her. One of these adults is Jennifer Jason Leigh in a brief sequence. I didn't find that this technique revealed anything that significant, but I appreciate Solondz' willingness to experiment with form.

The biggest problem is that the film never takes any of its interests seriously. The adventures that the runaway girl has are explored in only a very circumspect and superficial way. Most of the actresses portray her as highly lethargic, and I started to feel as phlegmatic as her while watching the film. Solondz likes to look at the dark underbelly of mainstream suburban culture, but he does not explore it with much gusto or insight. He just kind of glances at it. This makes his films rather slight.

A palindrome, incidentally, is a word that is spelled the same backwards and forwards, like Aviva, the name of the main character. Nothing in the film indicates why Solondz finds this so intriguing as to name the film as he did. And if he told me, I bet I'd find it only mildly interesting.
November 22, 2009
Bill D 2007
William Dunmyer

Super Reviewer

It?s a bit complicated but its bold and very original! Typically disturbing while being quite tender, what will Solondz do next?
September 23, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

More than just a sequel to Welcome to the Dollhouse, this is a companion piece. Much more abstract than it's predecessor, Palindromes delves a little deeper into teenage sexuality and it's relationship with self image and self esteem. A very dynamic and off-beat film.
September 13, 2009
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

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