Palindromes (15)

Written and Directed by Todd Solondz
Screening at FACT from 20th-26th May 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

According to writer and director Todd Solondz, Palindromes is "a love story". If that's true then it must be the kind of love that is only referred to in hushed euphemisms and hidden next to the cobwebbed skeletons in the closet. This is Solondz's idea of what America has become - a cesspit of human waste; a land where everything and everyone is messed-up beyond repair, a nation you would cross the street to avoid.

The palindromically-named Aviva is in her very early teens, but she wants to have a baby more than anything else in the world. So she sets out on a horrible journey in attempt fulfil her dream. On the way she encounters horny boys, paedophiles and a scary kind of Christian care home that is run by the more than slightly unhinged 'Mama Sunshine' (Debra Monk). Each wonderfully horrible character is more grotesque than the last, and will provide the inspiration for thousands of nightmares around the world. If that wasn't unsettling enough, there are many different Avivas shown, varying in shape, ethnicity, age and even gender. Blink and you'll get very confused. The viewer is constantly prodded and tested, with the in-built ambiguities forcing the viewer to choose between laughing, crying or vomiting.

So Palindromes is nothing if not challenging and edgy. It's also not for the faint-hearted, and it's definitely not a Hitch or a Bridget Jones kind of easily difficult romance. If you leave feeling slightly grubby then I would not be in the least surprised. If - like me - you leave questioning everything you ever believed about the nature of love then Solondz has succeeded in making one of the most original and praiseworthy films I have seen in a long time.

Printer friendly page