Life During Wartime Reviews
11 years later Solondz returned with a sequel to his perhaps most praised movie. "Life During Wartime" shows what happened to the three sisters and how their American Dream(TM) is realized in a period when America is internationally shunned for its war in Iraq. This time the mood is much less comedic, even though the poignantly laconic irony is still there. The comedy is somehow harsher, more cruel.
Solondz has completely recast all the familiar roles with talented but often rather noticeably different actors. The decision to recast everyone is probably a wise one, but it does present an initial barrier for people familiar with "Happiness". But "Life During Wartime" is in every way very different from its prequel. It has been shot in a completely different way. It's saturated with color and shape, whereas "Happiness" was simple and realistic in its cinematography. The scope of the newer film is also broader, it embraces geopolitics and the question of U.S.A.'s identuty as a nation is no longer addressed only on the symbolic level.
In the end "Life During Wartime" emerges as a slightly unfocused but ultimately successful film that manages to deliver on its ambitious thematic premise.The fact that the tone and feel are so different compared with "Happiness" is perhaps a good way to emphasize the differences between the hopeful but self-delusional America of 1998 and the paranoid and cynical one of 2007.