Pegged with such adjectives as “misanthropic” and “morose,” director Todd Solondz might be perceived as a disturbed individual. Like most things, there are layers to understanding his purpose as a filmmaker. In such instances, one might glance at Solondz’s new film “Palindromes” (Wellspring) with a misconceived notion of the man who birthed it. Solondz presents a dark reality through addressing abortion in the context of American suburban family life.
The unconventional narrative follows the story of a young girl named Aviva and her desire to be a mother against the wishes of her parents. In an act of defiance towards proper character structure, Solondz uses eight distinctly different young female actresses to play Aviva, each embodying the array of emotional responses from pregnancy to childbirth and society’s perception of abortions. Aviva, in each of her forms, is faced with the many societal conflicts that attempt to force upon her a way of thought deemed acceptable.
While centered on the highly polarized issue of abortion, “Palindromes” thankfully avoids presenting Solondz’s personal opinion and creates a complicated, detached character dynamic. Rather than being objective by telling both sides of the story, Solondz stays true to his style and gives a brutally realistic portrayal of these scenarios. With general neutrality, Solondz comes through with an odd story of human behavior and disturbing representations. He creates ambiguity over the issue of abortion, causing us to question our own ethics by addressing that which divides us.
In his attempts to understand the misapprehensions of both sides, Solondz presents the right-to-lifers singing about unborn children and the misled suburban mother choosing a credit card account at The Gap over another child.
The film’s complexity is projected through its dark storyline that circumvents simple answers. Calling Solondz self-hating in his presentation of moral ugliness reflects a nearsighted interpretation of one who cannot separate the man from his work. Viewers seeking a sense of satisfaction will be left with self-doubt and discontent. However, to ignore the matters of disunity would be to overlook the film’s true purpose.
“Palindromes” opens Friday at Landmark E St. Cinema. Go to www.gwhatchet.com for an exclusive interview with director Todd Solondz.